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Full text of "Lucretia, or, The children of night [electronic resource]"

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LUCRETIA 



OB, 



THE CHILDREN OF NIGHT. 



ET 



THE RIGHT HON. LORD LYTTON. 



'Cote it sol tace." 

Dante, I' Inferno, Cant. i. 1. 60. 



3 £rfa (EDttum. 



LONDON: 
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS, 

THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE ; 
>:iW YORK: 41 r;, BROOME STREET. 



Tn 1 vol. fiap. Bvo., cloth, price 6s., with pnrtraii 
and Vignette, 

The Dramatic Works of The Right Hon. Lord Lytton, 

CONTAIXIKG 

The Duchess de la Monei. 

Vallieke. RlCHELIEL'. 

The Lady op Lyons. Not so Bad as we Seeh, 



In 1 vol. f cap. 8vo., cloth, price 7s. 6d., with Portrait 
and Vignette, 

The Poetical Works of The Eight Hon. Lord Lytton. 



GEOKGE EOUTLBDGE & SONS, 

IHB KP.OABWit.Xj LCnaiTB BILL. 



PREFACE TO THE EDITION OF 1853. 



Lucketia, OE THE Childuen of Night, was begun simul- 
taneously with The Caxtons, a Family Picture. The two fictions 
were intended as pendants ; both serving, amongst other collateral 
aims and objects, to show the influence of home education, — of early 
circumstance and example upon after character and conduct. 
Lucketia was completed and published before The Caxtons. The 
moral design of the first was misunderstood and assailed ; that of the 
last was generally acknowledged and approved ; the moral design in 
both was nevertheless precisely the same. But in one it was sought 
through tbe darker side of human nature, in the other, through the 
more sunny and cheerful — one shows the evil, the other the salutary 
influences of early circumstance and training. Necessarily, therefore, 
the first resorts to the tragic elements of awe and distress — the second 
to the comic elements of humour and agreeable emotion. These 
differences serve to explain the different reception that awaited the 
two, and may teach us how little the real conception of an author is 
known, and how little it is cared for : we judge— not by the purpose 
te conceives, but according as the impressions he effects are pleasurable 
or painful. But while I cannot acquiesce in much of the hostile 
criticism this fiction produced at its first appearance, I readily allow 
that, as a mere question of art, the story might have been improved 
in itself, and rendered more acceptable to the reader, by diminishing 
the gloom of the catastrophe. In this edition I have endeavoured to 
do so ; and the victim whose fate in the former cast of the work most 
revolted the reader, as a violation of the trite but amiable law 0/ 



IiT RZYACS, TO THE EDITION OF 1853. 

PoeticalJ ustice, is saved from the hands of The Children of Kicira 
Perhaps— whatever the faults of this work — it equals most of its 
companions in the sustainment of interest, and in that coincidence 
between the gradual development of motive or passion, and the 
sequences of external events constituting plot, which mainly dis- 
liiiguish the physical awe of tragedy from the coarse horrors of 
melodrama. I trust, at least, that I shall now find few readers, who 
will not readily acknowledge that the delineation of crime has only 
been employed for the grave and impressive purpose which brings it 
within the due province of the poet a as an clement of terror, arid s 
warning to the heart. 

^j«?don, Zkrexier ItA. 



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION. 



It is somewhere about four years since I appeared before (lie public 
as the writer of a fiction, which I then intimated would probably ba 
my last ; but bad habits are stronger than good intentions. "When 
Fabrieio, in his hospital, resolved upon abjuring the vocation of the 
Poet, he was, hi truth, re-commencing his desperate career by a 
Farewell to the Muses : — I need not apply the allusion. 

I must own, however, that there had long been a desire in my mind 
to trace, in some work or other, the strange and secret ways through 
which that Arch-ruler of Civilization, familiarly called " Money," 
insinuates itself into our thoughts and motives, our hearts and 
actions ; affecting those who undervalue as those who over-estimate 
its importance ; ruining virtues in the spendthrift no less than engen- 
dering vices in the miser. But when I half implied my farewell to 
the character of a novelist, I had imagined that this conception might 
be best worked out upon the stage. After some unpublished anc 
imperfect attempts towards so realising my design, I found either 
that the subject was too wide for the limits of the Drama, or that 1 
wanted that faculty of concentration, which alone enables the dramatist 
to compress multiform varieties into a very limited compass. With 
1 his design, I desired to unite some exhibition of what seems to me 
a principal vice in the hot and emulous chase for happiness or fame, 
fortune or knowledge, which is almost synonymous with the cant 
phrase of " the March of Intellect," in that crisis of society to whicb 
we have arrived. The vice I allude to is Impatience. That eager 
di-^iie to Dress forward, not so much to conquer obstacles as to elude 



n PREFACE TO THE FIKST EDITION. 

then', , that gambling with the solemn destinies of life, seeking ever 
to set success upon the chance of a die ; that hastening from the wish 
conceived to the end accomplished ; that thirst after quick returns to 
mgenious toil, and breathless spurrings along short cuts to tie goal, 
which we see everywhere around us, from the Mechanics' Institute to 
the Stock Market, — beginning in education with the primers of infancy 
—deluging us with " Philosophies for the Million," and " Sciences 
made Easy ;" characterising the books of our writers, the speeches of 
our statesmen, no less than the dealings of our speculators, seem, I 
confess, to me to constitute a very diseased and very general symptom 
of the times. I hold that the greatest friend to man is labour ; that 
knowledge without toil, if possible, were worthless ; that toil in 
pursuit of knowledge is the best knowledge we can attain ; that the 
continuous effort for fame is nobler than fame itself; that it is not 
wealth suddenly acquired which is deserving of homage, but the 
virtues which a man exercises in the slow pursuit of wealth,— the 
abilities so called forth, the self-denials so imposed ; hi a word, that 
Labour and Patience are the true schoolmasters on earth. While 
occupied with these ideas and this belief, whether right or wrong, 
and slowly convinced that it was only in that species of composition 
with which I was most familiar that I could work out some portion of 
the plan that I began to contemplate, I became acquainted with the 
histories of two criminals, existing in our own age ; — so remarkable, 
whether from the extent and darkness of the guilt committed — 
whether from the glittering accomplishments and lively ten per of 
the one, the profound knowledge and intellectual capacities of the 
other — that the examination and analysis of characters so perverted 
became a study full of intense, if gloomy interest. 

In these persons there appear to have been as few redeemable 
points as can be found in Human Nature, so far as such points may 
be traced in the kindly instincts and generous passions which do 
sometimes accompany the perpetration of great crimes, and without 
excusing the individual, vindicate the species. Yet, on tta othe/ 



KUSFACE TO THE riKST EDITION, Vll 

hand, thcif sanguinary wickedness was not the dull ferocity of 
brutes ; — it was accompanied with instruction and culture : — nay, it 
seemed to me, on studying their lives, and pondering over their own 
letters, that through, their cultivation itself we could arrive at the 
secret of the ruthless and atrocious pre-eminence in evil these 
Children of Night had attained — that here the monster vanished 
into the mortal, and the phenomena that seemed aberrations from 
nature were explained. 

I could not resist the temptation of reducing to a tale the materials 
which had so engrossed my interest and tasked my inquiries. And 
in this attempt, various incidental opportunities have occurred, if 
not of completely carrying out, still of incidentally illustrating, my 
earlier design ; — of showing the influence of Mammon upon our most 
secret selves, of reproving the impatience which is engendered by a 
civilisation — that with much of the good brings all the evils of 
competition, and of tracing throughout all the influences of early 
household life upon our subsequent conduct and career. In such 
incidental bearings the moral may doubtless be more obvious than 
in the delineation of the darker and rarer crime which forms the 
staple of my narrative. For in extraordinary guilt, we are slow to 
recognise ordinary warnings — we say to the peaceful conscience, 
" This concerns thee not ! " — whereas at each instance of familiar 
fault and common-place error we own a direct and sensible adma 
nition. Yet in the portraiture of gigantic crime, poets have rightl> 
found their sphere, and fulfilled their destiny, of teachers. Those 
terrible truths, which appal us in the guilt of Macbeth, or the villany 
of Iago, have their moral uses not less than the popular infirmities of 
Tom Jones, or the everyday hypocrisy of Blifil. 

Incredible as it may seem, the crimes herein related took place 
within the last seventeen years. There has been no exaggeration as 
to their extent, no great departure from their details — the means 
employed, even that which seems most far-fetched (the instrument 
of the poisoned ring), have their foundation in literal facts. Nor 



VU1 PREFACE TO THE ITKSI EDITION. 

have I much altered the social position of the criminals, nor in the 
least overrated their attainments and intelligence. In those more 
salient essentials which will most, perhaps, provoke the Header's 
incredulous wonder, I nan-ate a history, not invent a fiction.* All 
that romance which our own time affords is not more the romance 
than the philosophy of the time. Tragedy never quits the world — it 
surrounds us everywhere. We have but to look, wakeful and vigilant, 
abroad, — and from the age of Pelops to that of Borgia, the same 
crimes, though under different garbs, will stalk on our paths. Each 
age comprehends in itself specimens of every virtue and every vice 
which has ever inspired our love or moved our horror. 

London, November 1st, 1846. 



* These criminals were not, however, in actual life, as in the novel, intimates 
and accomplices. Their crimes were of similar character, effected by similar 
agencies, and committed at dates which embrace their several careers of guilt 
within the same period ; but I have no authority to suppose that the one waf 
known to the other. 



LUCRETIA 



Oil, 



THE CHILDREN OF NIGHT 



PAUT THE FIltST. 

PllOLOGXIE TO PATIT THE FIRST. 

In an apartment at Paris, one morning, during the Reign of Terror, 
a man, whose age might be somewhat under thirty, sat before a table 
covered with papers, arranged and labelled with the methodical pre- 
cision of a mind fond of order, and habituated to business. Behind him 
rose a tall bookcase, surmounted with a bust of Robespierre, and the 
shelves were filled chiefly with works of a scientific character ; amongst 
which the greater number were on chemistry and medicine. There 
were to be seen also many rare books on alchemy, the great Italian 
Mstorians, some English philosophical treatises, and a few MSS. in 
Arabic. The absence from this collection of the stormy literature of 
the day seemed to denote that the owner was a quiet student, living 
apart from the strife and passions of the Revolution. This supposition 
was, however, disproved by certain papers on the table, which were 
formally and laconically labelled " Reports on Lyons," and by packets 
of letters in the handwritings of RoDespierre and Couthon. At one 
of the windows a young boy was earnestly engaged in some occupa- 
tion which appeared to excite the curiosity of the person just described; 
for this last, after examiuing the child's movements for a few moments 
with a silent scrutiny, that betrayed but little of the half-complacent, 
half-melancholy affection with which busy man is apt to regard idle 
childhood, rose noiselessly from his seat, approached the boy, and 
looked over his shoulder unobserved. In a crevice of the wood by the 
window, a huge black spider had formed his web ; the child had just. 
discovered another spider, and placed it in the meshes ; he was watch- 
ing the result of his operations. The intrusive spider stood motionless 
in the midst of the web, as if fascinated. The rightful possessor was 
also quiescent ; but a very fine ear might have caught a low humming 
sound, which probably augured no hospitable intentions to the invader. 
Anon, the stranger insect seemed suddenly to awake from its amaze ; 
it evinced alarm, and turned to fly ■ the huge spider darted forward 
— the boy uttered a chuckle of delight. The man's pale lip curled 
into a sinister sneer, and '■>« glided back to his seat. There, leaning 



3 LXTCKKTIA.. 

his face on his liand, lie continued to contemplate the child. _ That 
child might have furnished to an artjst a fitting subject for fair and 
blooming infancy. His light hair, tinged deeply, it is true, with red, 
hung m sleek and glittering abundance down his neck and shoulders. 
His features, seen in profile, were delicately and almost femininely 
proportioned ; health glowed on his cheek, and his form, slight though 
it was, gave promise of singular activity and vigour. _ His dress was 
fantastic, and betrayed the taste of some fondly foolish mother ; but 
the line linen, trimmed with lace, was rumpled and stained, the velvet 
jacket unbrushed, the shoes soiled with dust ; — slight tokens these of 
neglect, but serving to show that the foolish fondness which had in- 
vented the dress, had not of late presided over the toilet. 

" Child," said the man, first in Erench ; and observing that the boy 
heeded him not — " Child," he repeated in English, which he spoke 
well, though with a foreign accent — " child ! " 

The boy turned quickly. 

" Has the great sp ;, ler devoured the small one ? " 

"No, sir," said the ooy, colouring, "the small one has had the best 
of it." The tone am. heightened complexion of the child seemed to 
give meaning to his words — at least, so the man thought, for a slight 
frown passed over his high, thoughtful brow. 

" Spiders, then," he said, after a short pause, " are different from 
men ; with us, the small do not get the better of the great. Hum ! do 
you still miss your mother ? " 

" Oh, yes ! "—and the boy advanced eagerly to the table. 

" Well, you will see her once again." 

"When?" 

The man looked towards a clock on the mantelpiece — " Before that 
clock strikes. Now, go back to your spiders." The child looked 
irresolute and disinclined to obey ; but a stern and terrible expression 
gathered slowly over the man's face ; and the boy, growing pale as he 
remarked it, crept back to the window. 

The father — for such was the relation the owner of the room bore 
to the child — drew paper and ink towards him, and wrote for some 
minutes rapidly. Then starting up, he glanced at the clock, took his 
hat and cloak, which lay on a chair beside, drew up the collar of the 
mantle till it almost concealed his countenance, and said, "Now, boy, 
come with me ; I have promised to show you an execution. T am 
going to keep my promise. Come ! " 

The boy clapped his hands with joy ; and you might see then, child 
as he was, that those fair features were capable of a cruel and fero- 
cious expression. The character of the whole face changed. He 
caught up his gay cap and plume, and followed his father into the 
streets. 

Silently the two took their way towards the Barriere rlu Trdne. At 
a distance they saw the crowd growing thick and dense, as throng 
after throng nurried past them, and the dreadful guillotine rose high 
in the light blue air. As they came into the skirts of the mob, the 
father, for the first time, took his child's hand. " I must get you a 
:good place for the show," he said, with a quiet smile. 

There was something in the grave, staid, courteous, yet haughty 



LUCUETIA. 3 

bearing of the man, tnat made the crowd give way as he passed. 
They got near the dismal scene, and obtained entrance into a waggon 
already crowded with eager spectators. 

And now they heard at a distance the harsh and lumbering roll of 
(he tumbril that bore the victims, and the tramp of the horses which 
guarded the procession of death. The boy's whole attention was 
absorbed in expectation of the spectacle, and his ear was, perhaps, 
less accustomed to French, though born and reared in France, than 
to the language of his mother's Gps — and she was English : thus he 
did not hear or heed certain observations of the bystanders, which 
made his father's pale cheek grow paler. 

" What is the batch to-day ? " quoth a butcher in the wagon. 

" Scarce worth the baking — only two : — but one, they say, is an 
aristocrat — a ci-devant marquis," answered a carpenter. 

" All ! a marquis ! — Bon ! — And the other ? " 

" Only a dancer; but a pretty one, it is true : I could pity her, but 
she is English." And as he pronounced the last word, with a tone of 
inexpressible contempt, the butcher spat, as if in nausea. 

" Mort diable! a spy of Pitt's, no doubt. What did they dis- 
cover ? " 

A man better dressed than the rest, turned round with a smile, and 
answered — " Nothing worse than a lover, I believe ; but that lover 
was a proscrit. The ci-devant marquis was caught disguised in her 
apartment. She betrayed for him a good easy friend of the people, 
who had long loved her, and revenge is sweet." 

The man whom we have accompanied nervously twitched up the 
collar of his cloak, and his compressed lips told that he felt the 
anguish of the laugh that circled round him. 

"They are coining ! There they are ! " cried the boy in ecstatic 
excitement. 

" That's the way to bring up citizens," said the butcher, patting 
the child's shoulder, and opening a still better view for him at the 
edge of the wagon. 

The crowd now abruptly gave way. The tumbril was in sight. A 
man, young and handsome, standing erect and with folded arms in the 
fatal vehicle, looked along the mob with an eye of careless scom. 
Though he wore the dress of a workman, the most unpractised glance 
could detect, in his mien and bearing, one of the hated noblesse, whose 
characteristics came out even more forcibly at the hour of death. On 
the lip was that smile of gay and insolent levity,_ on the brow that 
gallant if reckless contempt of physical danger, which had signalised 
the hero-coxcombs of the old regime. Even the rude dress was worn 
with a certain air of foppery, and the bright hair was carefully 
adjusted as if for the holiday of the headsman. As the eyes of the 
young noble wandered over the fierce faces of that horrible assembly, 
while a roar of hideous triumph answered the look, in which for the 
last time the genlilhomme spoke his scorn of the canaille, the child's 
father lowered the collar of his cloak, and slowly raised his hat from 
his brow. The eye of the marquis rested upon the countenance thus 
abruptly shown to him, and which suddenly became individualised 
amongst the crowd, — that eye instantly lost its calm contempt. A 



4 LUCRETIA. 

shudder passed visibly over his frame, and his cheek grew blanched 
with terror. The mob saw the change, but not the cause, and loud 
and louder rose their triumphant yell. The sound recalled the pride 
of the young noble ;— he started — lifted his crest erect, and sought 
again to meet the look which, had appalled him. But he could no 
longer single it out among the crowd. Hat and cloak once more hid 
!he face of the foe, and crowds of eager heads intercepted the view. 
The young marquis's lips muttered; he bent down, and then the 
crowd caught sight of his companion, who was being lifted up from 
the bottom of the tumbril, where she had flung herself in horror and 
despair. The crowd grew still in a moment, as the pale face of one, 
familiar to most of them, turned wildly from place to place in the 
dreadful scene, vainly and madly through its silence imploring life 
and pity. How often had the sight of that face, not then pale and 
haggard, but wreathed with, rosy smiles,, 'fficed to draw down the 
applause of the crowded theatre — how, tiwn, had those breasts, now 
fevered by the thirst of blood, held hearts spell-bound by the airy 
movements of that exquisite form writhing now in no stage-mime 
agony ! Plaything of the city — minion to the light amusement of the 
hour — frail child of Cytherea and the Graces, what relentless fate has 
conducted thee to the shambles? Butterfly of the summer, why 
should, a nation rise to break thee upon the wheel ? A sense of the 
mockery of such an execution, of the horrible burlesque that would 
sacrifice to the necessities of a mighty people so slight an offering, 
made itself felt among the crowd. There was alow murmur of shame 
and indignation. The dangerous sympathy of the mob was perceived 
by the officer in attendance. Hastily he made the sign to the heads- 
man, and, as he did so, a child's cry was heard in the English tongue 
— "Mother — mother!" The father's hand grasped the child's arm 
with an iron pressure ; the crowd swam before the boy's eyes ; the air 
seemed to stifle him, and become blood-red ; only through the hum, 
-uid the tramp, and the roll of the drums, he heard a low voice hiss in 
his ear — " Learn how they perish who betray me ! " 

As the father said these words,^ again his face was bare, and the 
woman whose ear, amidst the dull insanity of fear, had caught the cry 
of her child's voice, saw that face, and fell back insensible in the arms 
of the headsman. 



CHAPTER I. 

A FAMILY GROUP. 

One July evening, at the commencement of the present century, 
several persons were somewhat picturesquely grouped along an old- 
fashioned terrace, which skirted the garden-side of a manor-house 
that had considerable pretensions to baronial dignity. The archi- 
tecture was of the most enriched and elaborate style belonging to the 
reign of James the Erst : the porch, opening on the terrace, with its 
muliion window above, was encased with pilasters and reliefs, at oree 



L'DCIUiTIA. !i 

ornamental and massive • and the large square tower in which it was 
placed, was surmounted by a stone falcon, whose talons griped fiercely 
a scutcheon blazoned with the five-pointed stars which heralds recog- 
nise as the arms of St. John. On either side this tower extended 
long wings, the dark brickwork of which was relieved with noble 
stone casements and carved pediments ; the high roof was partially 
concealed by a balustrade, perforated not inelegantly into arabesque 
designs; and what architects call "the skyline" was broken with 
imposing effect by tall chimney-shafts, of various form and fashion. 
These wings terminated in angular towers, similar to the centre, 
though kept duly subordinate to it both in size and decoration, and 
crowned with stone cupolas. A low balustrade, of later date than 
that which adorned the roof, relieved by vases and statues, bordered 
the terrace, from winch a double flight of steps descended to a smooth 
lawn, intersected by broad gravel walks, shadowed by vast and stately 
cedars, and gently and gradually mingling with the wilder scenery of 
the park, from which it was only divided by a ha-ha. 

Upon the terrace, and under cover of a temporary awning, sat the 
owner, Sir Miles St. John, of Laughton, a comely old man, dressed 
with faithful precision to the costume which he had been taught to 
consider appropriate to his rank of gentleman, and which was not yet 
wholly obsolete and eccentric. His hair, still thick and luxuriant, 
was carefully powdered, and collected into a club behind. His nether 
man attired in grey breeches and pearl-coloured silk stockings ; his 
vest of silk, opening wide at the breast, and showing a profusion of 
frill, slightly sprinkled with the pulvilio of his favourite martinique ; 
his three-cornered hat, placed on a stool at his side, with a gold- 
headed crutch-cane, — hat made rather to be carried in the hand than 
worn on the head, the diamond in his shirt-breast, the diamond on his 
finger, the ruffles at his wrist, — all bespoke the gallant, who had 
chatted with Lord Chesterfield, and supped with Mrs. Clive. On a 
table before him, were placed two or three decanters of wine, the 
fruits of the season, an enamelled snuff-box, in which was set the 
portrait of a female — perhaps the Chloe or Phillis of his early love- 
ditties ; a lighted taper, a small china jar containing tobacco, and 
three or four pipes of homely clay — for cherry-sticks and meerschaums 
were not then in fashion, and Sir Miles St. John, once a gay and 
sparkling beau, now a popular country gentleman, great at county 
meetings and sheep-shearmg festivals, had taken to smoking, as in 
harmony with his bucolic transformation ; an old setter lay dozing at his 
feet ; a small spaniel— old, too — was sauntering lazily in the immediate 
neighbourhood, looking gravely out for such stray bits of biscuit as 
had been thrown forth to provoke him to exercise, and which hitherto 
had escaped his attention. Half seated, half reclined on the balus- 
trade, apart from the Baronet, but within reach of his conversation, 
lolled a man in the prime of life, with an air of unmistakable and 
sovereign elegance and distinction. Mr. Vernon was a guest from 
London : and the London man, the man of clubs, and dinners and 
routs — of noon loungings through Bond Street, and nights spent 
with the Prince of Wales, seemed stamped not more upon the careful 
carelessness of his dress, and upon the worn expression of his deli 



fj MJCUETIA. 

cate features, than upon the listless ennui, which, characterising both 
his face and attitude, appeared to take pity on himself for having been 
entrapped into the country. 

Yet we should convey an erroneous impression of Mr. Yernon, if 
we designed, by the words " listless ennui" to depict the slumberous 
insipidity of more modern affectation — it was not the ennui of a man 
to wnom ennui is habitual ; it was rather the indolent prostration 
that fills up the intervals of excitement. At that day, the word 
"'blase" was unknown; men had not enough sentiment for satiety. 
There was a kind of Bacchanalian fury in the life led by those leaders 
of fashion, among whom Mr. Vernon was not the least distinguished ; 
it was a day of deep drinking, of high play, of jovial reckless dissipa- 
tion — of strong appetite for fun and riot — of four-in-hand coachman- 
ship — of prize-fighting — of a strange sort of barbarous manliness, that 
strained every nerve of the constitution ; a race of life, in which three- 
fourths of the competitors died half-way in the hippodrome. What 
is now the Dandy was then the Buck ; and something of the Buck, 
though subdued by a chaster taste than fell to the ordinary members 
of his class, was apparent in Mr. Vernon's costume as well as air. 
Intricate folds of muslin, arranged in prodigious bows and ends, 
formed the cravat, which Brummell had not yet arisen to reform ; 
his hat, of a very peculiar shape, low at the crown and broad at the 
brim, was worn with an air of devil-me-care defiance; his watch- 
chain, garnished with a profusion of rings and seals, hung low from 
his white waistcoat ; and the adaptation of his nankeen inexpressibles 
to his well-shaped limbs, was a masterpiece of art. His whole dress 
and air was not what could properly be called foppish — it was rather 
what at that time was called "rakish." Pew could so closely approach 
vulgarity without being vulgar : of that privileged few, Mr. Vernon 
was one of the elect. Further on, and near the steps descending into 
the garden, stood a man in an attitude of profound abstraction ; his 
arms folded, his eyes bent on the ground, his brows slightly con- 
tracted : his dress was a plain black surtout, and pantaloons of the 
same colour ; something both in the fashion of the dress, and still 
more hi the face of the man, bespoke the foreigner. 

Sir Miles St. John was an accomplished person for that time of 
day : he had made the grand tour ; he had bought pictures and sta- 
tues ; ho spoke and wrote well in the modern languages-; and being 
rich, hospitable, social, and not averse from the reputation of a patron, 
he had opened his house freely to the host of emigrants whom the 
Trench Revolution had driven to our coasts. Olivier Dalibard, a 
man of considerable learning and rare scientific attainments, had been 

tutor in the house of the Marquis de G , a Trench nobleman, 

known many years before to the old Baronet. The Marquis and his 
family had been among the first emigres at the outbreak ot the Revo- 
lution. The tutor had remained behind : for at that time no danger 
appeared to threaten those who pretended to no other aristocracy than 
that of letters. Contrary, as he said, with repentant modesty, to Ins 
own inclinations, he had been compelled, not only for his own safety, 
but for that of his friends, to take some part in the subsequent events 
of the Revolution — a part far from sincere, though so well had he 



LUCRCTf,;. 7 

simulated the patriot, that lie had won the personal tavour and pro- 
tection of Robespierre ; nor till the fall of that virtuous exterminator 
had he withdrawn from the game of politics, and effected in disguise 
his escape to England. As, whether from kindly or other motives, 
he had employed the power of his position in the esteem of Robe- 
spierre, to save certain noble heads from the guillotine — amongst 

others, the two brothers of the Marquis de G , he was received 

with grateful welcome by his former patrons, who readily pardoned 
his career of Jacobinism, from their belief in his excuses, and their 
obligations to the services which that very career had enabled him t<? 
render to their kindred. Olivier Dalibard had accompanied the Mar- 
quis and his family in one of the frequent visits they paid to Laughton ■„ 
and when the Marquis finally quitted England, and fixed his refuge 
at Vienna, with some connections of his wife's, he felt a lively satisfac- 
tion at the thought of leaving his friend honourably, if unambitiously, 
provided for, as secretary and librarian to Sir Miles St. John. _ In fact, 
the scholar, who possessed considerable powers of fascination, had 
won no less favour with the English baronet than he had with the 
French dictator. He played well both at chess and backgammon ; he 
was an extraordinary accountant; he had a variety of information 
upon all points, that rendered him more convenient than any cyclo- 
paedia hi Sir Miles's library ; and as he spoke both English and Italian 
with a correctness and fluency extremely rare in a Frenchman, he was 
of considerable service in teaching languages to (as well as directing 
the general literary education of) Sir Miles's favourite niece — whom 
we shall take an early opportunity to describe at length. 

Nevertheless, there bad been one serious obstacle to Dalibard' s 
acceptance of the appointment offered to him by Sir Miles. Dalibard 
had under his charge a young orphan boy of some ten or twelve years 
old — a boy whom Sir Miles was not long in suspecting to be the 
scholar's son. This chiia had come from France with Dalibard, and 
(while the Marquis's family were in London) remained under the eye 
and care of Iris guardian or father, whichever was the true connection 
between the two. But this superintendence became impossible, if 
Dalibard settled in Hampshire with Sir Miles St. John, and the boy 
remained in London ; nor, though the generous old gentleman offered 
to pay for the child's schooling, would Dalibard consent topart with 
\iim. At last, the matter was arranged : the boy was invited to 
liaughton on a visit, and was so lively, yet so well mannered, that he 
became a favourite, and was now fairly quartered in the house with 
his reputed father : and not to make an unnecessary mystery of this 
connection, such was in truth the relationship between Olivier Dali- 
bard and Honore Gabriel Varney — a name significant of the double 
and illegitimate origin — a French father, an English mother ; 
dropping, however, the purely French appellation of Honore, he 
went familiarly by that of Gabriel. Half-way down the steps 
stood the lad, pencil and tablet in hand, sketching. Let us 
look over his shoulder — it is his father's likeness — a countenance 
in itself not very remarkable at the first glance, for the features 
were small, but when examined, it was one that most persons, women 
especially, would have pronounced handsome and to which none could 



b LTJCilJSTlA. 

deny the higher praise of thought and intellect. A native of Pro- 
vence, with some Italian blood in his veins — for his grandfather, a 
merchant of Marseilles, had married into a Florentine family settled 
at Leghorn — the dark complexion, common with those in the South, 
had been subdued, probably by the habits of the student, into a 
bronzed and steadfast paleness, which seemed almost fair by the con- 
trast of the dark hair which he wore unpowdered, and the still darker 
brows which hung thick and prominent over clear grey eyes. Com- 
pared with the features, the skull was disproportionally large, both 
behind and before ; and a physiognomist would have drawn conclu- 
sions more favourable to the power than the tenderness of the Pio- 
vencal's character, from the compact closeness of the lips and the 
breadth and massiveness of the iron jaw. But the son's sketch exag- 
gerated every feature, and gave to the expression a malignant and 
terrible irony, not now, at least, apparent in the quiet and meditative 
aspect. Gabriel himself, as he stood, would have been a more tempt- 
ing study to many an artist. It is true that he was small for his 
years ; but his frame had a vigour in its light proportions, which came 
from a premature and almost adolescent symmetry of shape and mus- 
cular development. The countenance, however, had much of effemi- 
nate beauty ; the long hair reached the shoulders, but did not curl ; 
straight, fine, and glossy as a girl's, and, in colour, of the pale auburn, 
tinged with red, which rarely alters in hue as childhood matures to 
man; the complexion was dazzingly clear and fan - . Nevertheless, 
there was something so hard in the Up, so bold, though not open, in 
the brow, that the girlishness of complexion, and even of outline, 
eould not leave, on the whole, an impression of effeminacy. All the 
hereditary keenness and intelligence were stamped upon his face at 
that moment ; but the expression had also a large share of the very 
irony and malice which he had conveyed to his caricature. The 
drawing itself was wonderfully vigorous and distinct, showing great 
artistic promise, and done with the rapidity and ease which betrayed 
practice. Suddenly his father turned, and with as sudden a quick- 
ness, the boy concealed his tablet in his vest ; and the sinister expres- 
sion of his face smoothed into a timorous smile, as his eye encountered 
Dalibard's. The_ father beckoned to the boy, who approached with 
alacrity. " Gabriel," whispered the Frenchman, in his own tongue, 
" where are they at this moment ?" 

The boy pointed silently towards one of the cedars. Dalibard 
mused an instant, and then slowly descending the steps, took his 
noiseless way over the smooth turf towards the tree. Its boughs 
drooped low and spread wide ; and not till he was within a few paces 
of the spot, could his eye perceive two forms, seated on a bench under 
the dark green canopy. He then paused and contemplated them. 

The one was a young man, whose simple dress and subdued air 
strongly contrasted the artificial graces and the modish languor of 
Mr. Vernon _; but though wholly without that nameless distinction 
which sometimes characterises those conscious of pure race, and habi- 
tuated to the atmosphere of courts, he had at least Nature's stamp of 
aristocracy in a form eminently noble, and features of manly, but sur- 
passing beauty, which were not rendered less engaging by an e.xpres- 



LUCRETIA. V 

sion of modest timidity. He seemed to be listening with thoughtfiu 
respect to his companion, a young female by his side, who was speak- 
ing to him with an earnestness visible in her gestures and her ani- 
mated countenance. And though there was much to notice in the 
various persons scattered over the scene, not one, perhaps — not the 
UTaceful Vernon — not the thoughtful scholar, nor his fair-haired hard- 
lipped son — not even the handsome listener she addressed — no, not 
one there would so have arrested the eys, whether of a physiognomist 
or a casual observer, as that young girl — Sir Miles St. John's favou- 
rite niece and presumptive heiress. 

But as at that moment the expression of her face differed from 
that habitual to it, we defer its description. 

"Do not" — such were her words to her companion, — "do not 
alarm yourself by exaggerating the difficulties- do not even contem- 
plate them — those be my care. Mainwaring, when 1 loved you, when, 
seeing that your diffidence or your pride forbade you to be the first to 
speak, I overstepped the modesty or the dissimulation of my sex : 
wheu I said, — 'Eorget that I am the reputed heiress of Laughton: 
see hi me but the faults and merits of the human being, of the wild 
unregulated girl ; see in me but Lucretia Clavering' "■ — here her cheeks 
blushed, and her voice sank into a lower and more tremulous whisper — 
" 'and love her if you can ! ' — when I went thus far, do not think I had 
not measured all the difficulties in the way of our union, and felt that 
I could surmount them." 

" But," answered Mainwaring, hesitatingly, " can you conceive ife 
possible that your uncle ever will consent ? Is not pride — the pride 
of family — almost the leading attribute of his character ? Did he not 
discard your mother — his own sister — from his house and heart, for 
no other offence but a second marriage, which he deemed beneath 
her ? Has he ever even consented to see, much less to receive, your 
half-sister — the child of that marriage ? Is not his very affection for 
you interwoven with his pride in you, with his belief in your am- 
bition ? Has he not summoned your cousin, Mr. Vernon, for the 
obvious purpose of favouring a suit which he considers worthy of you, 
and which, if successful, will unite the two branches of his ancient 
house ? How is it possible that he can ever hear without a scom and 
indignation which would be fatal to your fortunes, that your heart has 
presumed to choose, in William Mainwaring, a man without ancestry 
or career?" 

"Not without career!" interrupted Lucretia, proudly. "Do vou 
think, if you were master of Laughton, that your career would not 
be more brilliant than that of yon indolent, luxurious coxcomb ? Do 
you think I could have been poor-hearted enough to love you if I had 
not recognised in you energies and talents that correspond with my 
own ambition ? Eor I am ambitious, as you know, and therefore my 
mind, as well as my heart, went with my love for you." 

" Ah, Lucretia ! but can Sir Miles St. John see my future rise in 
my present obscurity?" 

" I do not say that he can, or will ; but if you love me, we can 
wait. Do not fear the rivalry of Mr. Vernon. I shall know how to 
tee myself from so tame a peril. We can wait — my uncle is old — 



10 LTJCRE1IA. 

his habits preclude the chance of a much longer life — he has already 
had severe attacks. We are young, clear Mainwaring : what is a 
year or two to those who hope ?" 

Mainwaring's face fell, and a displeasing chill passed through his 
veins. Could this young creature, her uncle's petted and trusted 
darling, she who should be the soother of his infirmities, the prop of 
Ids age, the sincerest mourner at his grave, weigh coldly thus the 
chances of his death, and point at once to the altar and the tomb ? 

He was saved from the embarrassment of reply by Dalibard's 
approach. 

" More than lialf an hour absent," said the scholar in his own lan- 
guage, with a smile ; and drawing out his watch, he placed it before 
their eyes : " do you not think that all will miss you ? Do you sup- 
pose, Miss Clavering, that your uncle has not, ere this, asked for his 
tair niece? Come, and forestall him." He offered his arm to 
Lucretia as he spoke. She hesitated a moment, and then, turning to 
Mainwaring, held out her hand : he pressed it, though scarcely with 
a lover's warmth : and as she walked back to the terrace with Dali- 
bard, the young man struck slowly into the opposite direction, and 
passing by a gate, over a foot-bridge, that led from the ha-ha into the 
park, bent his way towards a lake which gleamed below at some 
distance, half-concealed by groves of venerable trees, rich with the pro- 
digal boughs of summer. Meanwhile, as they passed towards the house, 
Dalibard, still using his native tongue, thus accosted his pupil : — 

" You must pardon me if I think more of your interests than you 
do ; and pardon me no less if I encroach on your secrets and alarm 
your pride. This young man — can you be guilty of the folly of more than 
a passing caprice for his society ? — of more than the amusement of 
playing with his vanity ? Even if that be all, beware of entangling 
yourself hi your own meshes." 

" You do in truth offend me," said Lucretia, with calm haughtiness, 
" and you have not the right thus to speak to me." 
_ " JMot the right," repeated the Provencal, mournfully ; " not the 
right ! — then, indeed, I am mistaken in my pupil. Do you consider 
that I would have lowered my pride to remain here as a dependent, 
that, conscious of attainments, and perhaps of abilities, that should 
win their way, even in exile, to distinction, I would have frittered 
away my life in these rustic shades, if I had not formed in you a deep 
and absorbing interest ; in that interest I ground my right to warn 
and counsel you. _ I saw, or fancied I saw, in you a mind congenial 
to my own — a mind above the frivolities of your sex — a mind, in 
short, with the grasp and energy of a man's. You were then but a 
child ; you are scarcely yet a woman ; yet have I not given to your 
intellect the strong food on which the statesmen of Florence fed their 
pupil-princes ; or the noble Jesuits, the noble men who were destined 
to extend the secret empire of the imperishable Loyola?" 

" You gave me the taste for a knowledge rare in my sex, I own," 
answered Lucretia, with a slight tone of regret in her voice ; " and 
in the knowledge you have communicated I felt a charm that, at 
times, seems to me to be only fatal. You have confounded in my 
mind evil and good, or, rather, you have left both good and evil as 



LUC11ET1A. 11 

dead ashes, as the dust and cinder of a crucible. You have made 
intellect the only conscience. Of late, I wish that my tutor had been 
a village priest!" 

" Of late ! since you have listened to the pastorals of that meek 
Corydon?'" 

''Dare you despise him — and for what? that he is good and 
nonest ? 

" I despise him not because he is good and honest, but because he 
is of the common herd of men, without aim or character. And it is 
for this youth that you will sacrifice your fortunes, your ambition, the 
station you were born to fill and have been reared to improve — this 
youth in whom there is nothing but the lap-dog's merit — sleekness 
and beauty. Ay, frown,— the frown betrays you — you love him !" 

" And if I do ?" said Lucretia, raising her tall form to its utmost 
height, and haughtily facing her inquisitor — " and if I do, what 
then ? Is he unworthy of me ? Converse with him, and you will 
find that the noble form conceals as high a spirit. He wants but 
wealth ; I can give it to him. If his temper is gentle, I can prompt 
and guide it to fame and power. He, at least, has education, and 
eloquence, and mind. What has Mr. Vernon?" 

" Mr. Vernon, I did not speak of him ! " 

Lucretia gazed hard upon the Provencal's countenance — gazed 
with that unpitying air of triumph with which a woman who detects 
a power over the heart she does not desire to conquer, exults in 
defeating the reasons that heart_ appears to her to prompt. " No," 
she said in a calm voice, to which the venom of secret irony gave 
stinging significance — "no, you spoke not of Mr. Vernon; you 
thought that if I looked round— if 1 looked nearer — I might have a 
fairer choice." 

" You are cruel — you are unjust," said Dalibard, falteringly. " If 
I once presumed for a moment, have I repeated my offence ? But," 
he added, hurriedly, " in me — much as you appear to despise me — in 
me, at least, you would have risked none of the dangers that beset 
you if you seriously set your heart on Mainwaring." 

"You think my uncle would be proud to give my hand to Monsieur 
Olivier Dalibard?" 

" I think and I know," answered the Provencal, gravely, and dis- 
regarding the taunt, " that if you had deigned to render me — poor 
exile that I am ! — the most enviable of men, you had still been the 
heiress of Laughton." 

"So you have said and urged," said Lucretia, with evident 
curiosity in her voice ; " yet how, and by what art — wise and subtle 
as you are — could you have won my uncle's consent ? " 

" That is my secret," returned Dalibard, gloomily : " and since the 
madness I indulged is for ever over — since 1 have so schooled my 
heart, that nothing, despite your sarcasm, save an affectionate inte- 
rest which I may call paternal, rests there — let us pass from this 
nainful subject. Oh, my dear pupil, be warned in time ! know love 
lor what it really is, in the dark and complicated history of actual 
Life — a brief enchantment, not to be disdained, but not to be considered 
tne all in all. Look round the world, contemplate all those who have 



12 LUCKETIA. 

married from passion — ten years afterwards, whither has the passion 
flown ? With a few, indeed, where there is community of object and 
character, new excitements, new aims, and hopes, spring up ; and, 
having first taken root in passion, the passion continues to shoot out 
in their fresh stems and fibres. But deceive yourself not ; there is 
no such community between you and Mainwaring. What you call 
his goodness, you will learn hereafter to despise as feeble ; and what 
in reality is your mental power, he soon, too soon, will shudder at as 
unwomanly and hateful." _ 

" Hold !" cried Lucretia, tremulously. " Hold ! and if he does, I 
shall owe his hate to you — to your lessons — to your deadly in- 
fluence !" 

" Lucretia, no ! — the seeds were in you ! Can cultivation force 
from the soil that which it is against the nature of the soil to bear ? " 

" I will pluck out the weeds ! I will transform myself !" 

" Child, I defy you ! " said the scholar, with a smile, that gave to 
his face the expression his son had conveyed to it. " I have warned 
you, and my task is done." With that he bowed, and leaving her, 
was soon by the side of Sir Miles St. John, and the baronet and his 
librarian, a few moments after, entered the house, and sat down to 
chess. 

But during the dialogues we have sketched, we must not suppose 
that Sir Miles himself had been so wholly absorbed in the sensual 
gratification bestowed upon Europe by the immortal Raleigh, as to 
neglect his guest and kinsman. 

" And so, Charley Vernon, it is not the fashion to smoke in Lun- 
non:" thus Sir Miles pronounced the word, according to the euphuism 
of his youth, and which, even at that day, still lingered in courtly 
jargon. 

" No, sir. However, to console us, we have most other vices in 
full force." 

" I don't doubt it ; they say the Prince's set exhaust life pretty 
quickly." 

" It certainly requires the fortune of an earl and the constitution 
of a prize-fighter, to five with him." 

" let methinks, Master Charley, you have neither one nor the 
other." 

" And therefore I see before me, and at no very great distance, the 
Bench — and a consumption ! " answered Vernon, suppressing a slight 
yawn. 

" "lis a pity ; for you had a fine estate, properly managed ; and, in 
spite of your faults, you have the heart of a true gentleman. Come, 
come ! " — and the old man spoke with tenderness — " you are young 
enough yet to reform. A prudent marriage, and a good wife, will 
saveboth your health and your acres." 

" If you think so highly of marriage, my dear Sir Miles, it is a 
wonder you did not add to your precepts the value of your example." 

" Jackanapes ! I had not your infirmities ! I never was a spend- 
thrift, and I have a constitution of iron!" There was a pause. 
" Charles," continued Sir Miles, musingly, " there is many an eari 
with a less fortune than the conjoined estates of Vernon Grange and 



LUCRETIA. JS 

Laughton Hall. You must already have understood me — it is my 
intention to leave my estates to Lucretia — it is my wish, nevertheless, 
to think you will not be the worse for my will. Frankly, if you can 
like my niece, win her ; settle here while I live, put the Grange to 
nurse, and recruit yourself by fresh air and field-sports. Zounds, 
Charles, I love you, and that's the truth !— Give me your hand !" 

"And a grateful heart with it, sir," said Vernon, warmly, evidently 
affected, as he started from his indolent position, and took the hand 
extended to liim. " Believe me, I do not covet your wealth, nor do 
I envy my cousin anything so much as the first place in your regard." 

" Prettily said, my boy; and I don't suspect you of insincerity. 
What think you, then, of my plan ? " 

Mr. Vernon seemed embarrassed ; but, recovering himself with his 
usual ease, he replied, archly, " Perhaps, sir, it will be of little use to 
know what I think of your plan; my fair cousin may have upset it 
already." _ 

"Ha, sir, let me look at you — so — so ! you are not jesting. Whai 
the deuce do you mean? Gad, man, speak out !" 

" Do you not think that Mr. Monderling— Mandolin— what's his 
name — eh ?— do you not think that he is a very handsome young 
fellow ?" said Mr. Vernon, drawing out his snuff-box, and I offering 
it to his kinsman. 

" Damn your snuff," quoth Sir Miles, in great choler, as he 
rejected the proffered courtesy with a vehemence that sent half the 
contents of the box upon the joint eyes and noses of the two canine 
favourites dozing at hisfeet. The setter started up in an agony — the 
spaniel wheezed and sniffled, and ran off, stopping every moment to 
take his head between his paws. The old gentlemen continued, with- 
out heeding the sufferings of his dumb friends — a symptom of rare 
discomposure on his part : 

_ " Do you mean to insinuate, Mr. Vernon, that my niece — my elder 
niece, Lucretia Clavering — condescends to notice the looks, good or 
bad, of Mr. Mainwaring ? 'Sdeath, sir, he is the son of a land-agent! 
Sir, he is intended for trade ! Sir, his highest ambition is to be partner 
in some fifth-rate mercantile house ! " 

"My dear Sir Miles," replied Mr. Vernon, as he continued to brash 
away, with his scented handkerchief, such portions of the Prince's 
mixture, as his nankeen inexpressibles had diverted from the sensual 
organs of Dash and Ponto — " my dear Sir Miles, ga n'empeche pas le 
sentiment ! " 

" Empeche the fiddlestick ! You don't know Lucretia. There are 
many girls, indeed, who might not be trusted near any handsome flute- 
playing spark, with black eyes and white teeth ; but Lucretia is not 
one of those ; she has spirit and ambition that would never stoop to 
a mesalliance ; she has the mind and will of a queen — old Queen Bess, 
I believe." 

" That is saying much for her talents, sir ; but if so, Heaven 
help her intended! I am duly grateful for the blessings you pro- 
pose me ! " 



Despite his anger, the old gentleman could not help smiling. 
" Why, to confess the truth, she is hard to manage ; but wc 



men of 



14 LirciiETiA. 

the world know how to govern women, I hope— much more how tc 
break in a girl scarce out of her teens. As for this fancy of yours, it 
is sheer folly — Lucretia knows my mind. She has seen her mother's 
fate ; she has seen her sister an exile from my house — why ?_ for no 
fault of hers, poor thing ! but because she is the child of disgrace, 
and the mother's sin is visited, on the daughter's head. I am a good- 
natured man, I fancy, as men go ; but I am old-fashioned enough to 
care for my race. If Lucretia demeaned herself to love, to encourage, 
that lad — why, I would strike her from my will, and put your name 
where I have placed hers." 

" Sir," said Vernon, gravely, and throwing aside all affectation of 
manner, " this becomes serious; and I have no right even to whisper 
a doubt by which it now seems I might benefit. I think it imprudent, 
if you wish Miss Clavering to regard me impartially as a suitor to her 
hand, to throw her, at her age, in the way of a man far superior to 
myself, and to most men, in personal advantages — a man more of her 
own years, well educated, well mannered, with no evidence of his 
inferior birth in his appearance or his breeding. _ I have not the least 
ground for supposing that he has made the slightest impression on 
Miss Clavering, and if he has, it would be, perhaps, but a girl's inno- 
cent and thoughtless fancy, easily shaken off by time and worldly 
reflection : but pardon me, if 1 say bluntly, that should that be so, 
you would be wholly unjustified in punishing, even in blaming her — it 
is yourself you must blame for your own carelessness, and that 
forgetful blindness to human nature and youthful emotions, which, 
I must say, is the less pardonable in one who has known the world 
so intimately." 

" Charles Vernon," said the old baronet, " give me your hand 
again ! I was right, at least, when I said you had the heart of a true 
gentleman. Drop this subject for the present. Who has just left 
Lucretia yonder ? " 

" Your protege — the Frenchman. 

" Ah, he, at least, is not blind — go, and join Lucretia ! " 

Vemon bowed, emptied the remains of the Madeira into a tumbler, 
drank the contents at a draught, and sauntered towards Lucretia- but 
she, perceiving his approach, crossed abruptly into one of the alleys 
that led to the other side of the house ; and he was either too indif- 
ferent, or too well-bred, to force upon her the companionship which 
she so evidently shunned. He threw himself at length upon one of the 
benches in the lawn, and, leaning his head upon his hand, fell into 
reflections, which, had he spoken, would have shaped themselves 
somewhat thus into words : — 

" If I must take that girl as the price of this fair heritage, shall I 
gain or lose ? I grant that she has the finest neck and shoulders I 
ever saw out of marble ; but far from being in love with her, she gives 
me a feeling like fear and aversion. Add to this, that she has evi- 
dently no kinder sentiment for me than I for her ; and if she once 
had a heart, that young gentleman has long since coaxed it away. 
Pleasant auspices, these, for matrimony, to a poor invalid, who wishes 
at least to decline, and to die in peace. Moreover, if I were rici 
enough to marry as I pleased— if I were what, perhaps, 1 ought to be, 



LUCRET1A. ij 

heir to Laughton — why, there is a certain sweet Mary in the world, 
whose eyes are softer than Lucretia Clave ring's : but that is a dream! 
On the other hand, if I do not win this girl, and my poor kinsman give 
her all or nearly all his possessions, Vernon Grange goes to the usurers, 
and the king will find a lodging for myself. What does it matter? I 
cannot live above two or three years at the most, and can only hope, 
therefore, that dear stout old Mr. Miles may outlive me. At thirty- 
three I have worn out fortune and life ; little pleasure could Laughton 
give me ; brief pain the Bench. Fore Gad, the philosophy of the thing 
is on the whole against sour looks and the noose ! " Thus deciding 
in the progress of his reverie, he smiled, and changed his position. 
The sun had set — the twilight was over — the moon rose in splendour 
from amidst a thick copse of mingled beech and oak ; the beams fell 
full on the face of the muser, and the face seemed yet paler, and the 
exhaustion of premature decay yet more evident, by that still and 
melancholy light — all ruins gain dignity by the moon. This was a 
ruin nobler than that which painters place on their canvass — the 
ruin, not of stone and brick, but of humanity and spirit ; the wreck 
of man, prematurely old, not stricken by great sorrow, not bowed by 
great toil, but fretted and mined away by small pleasures and poo;- 
excitements — small and poor, but daily, hourly, momently at the;? 
gnome-like work. Something of the gravity and the true lesson < 
the hour and scene, perhaps, forced itself upon a mind little given t » 
sentiment, for Vernon rose languidly, and muttered — 

" My poor mother hoped better things from me. It is well, after 
all, that it is broken off with Mary ! Why should there be any one to 
weep for me ? I can the better die smiling, as I have lived." 

Meanwhile, as it is necessary we should follow each of the principal 
characters we have introduced through the course of an evening more 
or less eventful in the destiny of all, we return to Mainwaring, and 
accompany him to the lake at the bottom of the park, which he 
reached as its smooth surface glistened in the last beams of the sun. 
He saw, as he neared the water, the fish sporting in the pellucid tide : 
the dragon-fly darted and hovered in the air; the tedded grass beneath 
his feet, gave forth the fragrance of crushed thyme and clover ; the 
swan paused, as if slumbering on the wave ; the linnet and finch sang 
still from the neighbouring copses ; and the heavy bees were winging 
their way home with a drowsy murmur ; all around were images of 
that unspeakable peace which Nature whispers to those attuned to 
her music ; all fitted to lull, but not to deject the spirit ; images dear 
to the holiday of the world-worn man, to the contemplation of serene 
and retired age ; to the boyhood of poets ; to the youth of lovers. 
But Mainwaring's step was heavy, and his brow clouded ; and Nature 
that evening was dumb to him. At the margin of the lake stood a 
solitary angler, who now (his evening's task done) was employed in 
leisurely disjointing his rod, and whistling with much sweetness an air 
from one of Isaak Walton's songs. Mainwaring reached the angler, 
and laid his hand on his shoulder. 

" What sport, Ardworth ? ' ; 

" A few large roach with the fly, and one pike with a gudgeon — a 
noble fellow ! — look at him ! lie was lying under the reeds yonder ; 



10 LIjCJUETIA. 

I saw his green back, and teased him into biting. A heavenly even- 
ing ! I wonder you. did not follow my example, and escape, from a set 
where neither you nor I can feel very much at home, to this green 
banquet of Nature, in which at least no man sits below the salt-cellar. 
The birds are an older family than the St. Johns', but they don't throw 
their pedigree in our teeth, Mainwaring." 

" Nay, naj r , my good friend, you wrong old Sir Miles ; proud he 
is, no "doubt, but neither you nor I have had to complain of his 
insolence." 

" Of his insolence ! certainly not,- — of his condescension, yes ! Hang 
it, William, it is Ms very politeness that galls me. Don't yon observe, 

that with Vernon, or Lord A , or Lord B , or Mr. C , he 

is easy and off-hand, calls them by their names, pats them on the 
shoulder, rates them, and swears at them if they vex him ; but with 
you, and me, and his French parasite, it is all stately decorum and 
punctilious courtesy : — ' Mr. Mainwaring, I am delighted to see you ;' 
* Mr. Ardworth, as you are so near, dare I ask you to ring the bell ; ' 
' Mons. Dalibard, with the utmost deference, I venture to disagree 
with you.' However, don't let my foolish susceptibility ruffle your 
pride. And you, too, have a worthy object in view, which might well 
detain you from roach and jack-fish. Have you stolen your interview 
with the superb Lucretia ? " 

" Yes, stolen, as you say ; and, like all thieves not thoroughly har- 
dened, I am ashamed of my gains." 

"Sit down, my boy; this is a bank in ten thousand ; there — that old 
root to lean your elbow on, this soft moss for your cushion ; sit down 
and confess. You have something on your mind that preys on you ; 
we are old college friends — out with it ! " 

" There is no resisting you, Ardworth," said Mainwaring, smiling, 
and drawn from his reserve and his gloom by the frank good-humour 
of his companion ; " I should like, I own, to make a clean breast of 
it ; and perhaps I may profit by your advice. You know, in the first 
place, that after I left college, my father seeing me indisposed for the 
churchy to which he had always destined me in his own heart, and for 
which, indeed, he had gone out of his way to maintain me at the Uni- 
versity, gave me the choice of his own business, as a surveyor and land- 
agent, or of entering into the mercantile profession. I chose the latter, 
and went to Southampton, where we have a relation in business, to be 
initiated into the elementary mysteries. There I became acquainted 
with a good clergyman and his wife, and in that house I passed a great 
part of my time." 

"With the hope, I trust, on better consideration, of gratifying your 
father's ambition, and learning how to starve witii gentility on a 
©ure." 

" Not much of that, I fear." 

" Then, the clergyman had a daughter ? " 

"You are nearer the mark now," said Mainwaring, colouring; 
K though it was not his daughter ; a young lady lived in his family 
not even related to him ; she was placed there with a certain allow- 
ance by a rich relation. In a word, I admired, perhaps I loved, this 
young person ; but she was without an independence, and I not vet 



1/JCKETia. 17 

provided even with the substitute of money — a profession. I fancied 
(do not laugh at my vanity) that my feelings might be returned. I 
was in alarm for her as well as myself ; I sounded the clergyman as to 
the chance of obtaining the consent of her rich relation, and was 
informed that he thought it hopeless. I felt I had no right to invite 
her to poverty and ruin, and still less to entangle further (if I had 
chanced to touch at all) her affection. I made an excuse to my father 
to leave the town, and returned home." 

" Prudent and honourable enough, so far ; unlike me, I should have 
run off with the girl, if she loved me, and old Plutus, the rascal, might 
have done his worst against Cupid. But I interrupt you." 

" I came back when the county was greatly agitated ; public meet- 
ings, speeches, mobs — a sharp election going on. My father had 
always taken keen interest in pontics ; he was of the same party ae 
Sir Miles, whoyou know is red-hot upon politics. I was easily led — 
partly by ambition, partly by the effect of example, partly by the 
hope to give a new turn to my thoughts — to make an appearance 
in public." 

"And a devilish creditable one, too. Whv, man, your speeches 
lijive been quoted with rapture by the London papers. Horribly 
aristocratic and Pittish, it is true ; — I think differently ; but every man 
to his taste. Well " 

"My attempts, such as they were, procured me the favour of Sir 
Miles. He had long been acquainted with my father, who had helped 
him in his own elections years ago. He seemed cordially delighted to 
patronise the son : he invited me to visit him at Laughton, and hinted 
to my father that I was formed for something better than a counting- 
house : my poor father was intoxicated. In a word, here I am — here, 
often for days, almost weeks, together, have I been— a guest, always 
welcomed." 

" You pause. This is the primordiurn,— now comes the confession, 
eh?" 

" Why, one half the confession is over. It was my most unmerited 
fortune to attract the notice of Miss Clavering. Do not fancy me so 
self-conceited as to imagine that I should ever have presumed so high, 
but for " 

"But for encouragement — I understand! Well, she is a magni- 
ficent creature in her way ; and I do not wonder that she drove the 
poor little girl at Southampton out of your thoughts." 

" Ah ! but there is the sore — I am not sure that she has done so, 
Ardworth, 1 may trust you ? " 

" With everything but half-a-guinea. I would not promise to be 
rock against so great a temptation ; " and Ardworth turned his empty 
pockets inside out. 

" Tush — be serious ! — or I go." 

"Serious! With pockets like these, the devil's in it if I am not 
serious. Perge, precor." 

" Ardworth, then," said Mainwaring, with great emotion, " I con- 
fide to you the secret trouble of my heart. This girl at Southampton 
is Lucretia's sister — her half-sister : the rich relation on whose allow- 
ance she lives is Sir Miles St. John." 



18 LUCRETIA. 

" Whew ! — my own poor dear little cousin, by the father's side 
Mainwaring, I trust you have not deceived me ; you have not amused 
vourself with breaking Susan's heart ? — for a heart, and an honest; 
simple, English girl's heart she lias." 

" Heaven forbid ! — I tell you I have never even declared my love — 
and if love it were, I trust it is over. But when Sir Miles was first 
kind to me, first invited me, I own I had the hope to win his esteem, 
and since he had always made so strong and cruel a distinctioxr 
between Lucretia and Susan, I thought it not impossible that he 
might consent at last to my union with the niece he had refused to 
receive and acknowledge. But even while the hope was in me, I was 
drawn on — I was entangled — I was spell-bound — I know not how or 
why ; but, to close my confidence, while still doubtful whether my 
own heart is free from the remembrance of the one sister, I am 
pledged to the other." 

Ardworth looked down gravely and remained silent. He was a 
joyous, careless, reckless youth, with unsteady character and pursuits 
— and with something of vague poetry, much of unaccommodating 
pride about his nature — one of those youths little likely to do what is 
called well in the world — not persevering enough for an independent 
career — too blunt and honest for a servile one. But it was in the very 
disposition of such a person to judge somewhat harshly of Main- 
waring's disclosure, and not easily to comprehend what, after all, was 
very natural — how a young man, new to life, timid by character, and 
of an extreme susceptibility to the fear of giving pain, had, in the 
surprise, the gratitude, the emotion, of an avowed attachment from a 
girl, far above him in worldly position, been forced by receiving, to 
seem, at least, to return her affection. And, indeed, though not 
wholly insensible to the brilliant prospects opened to him in . such a 
connection, yet, to do him justice, Mainwaring would have been 
equally entangled by a similar avowal, from a girl, more his equal in 
the world. It was rather from aii amiability bordering upon weak- 
ness, than from any more degrading moral imperfections, that he had 
been betrayed into a position which neither contented his heart, nor 
satisfied his conscience. 

With far less ability than his friend, Ardworth had more force and 
steadiness in his nature, and was wholly free from that morbid 
delicacy of temperament to which susceptible and shy persons owe 
much of their errors and misfortunes. He said, therefore, after a 
long pause, " My good fellow, to be plain with you, I cannot say that 
your confession has improved you in my estimation ; but that is per- 
haps because of the bluntness of my understanding. I could quite 
comprehend your forgetting Susan (and, after all, I am left in doubt 
as to the extent of her conquest over you), for the very different 
charms of her sister. On the other hand, I could still better under- 
stand, that having once fancied Susan, you could not be commanded 
into love for Lucretia. But I do not comprehend your feeling love 
for one, and making love to the other — which is the long and short of 
the business." 

" That is not exactly the true statement," answered Mainwaring, 
with a powerful effort at composure. "There are moments when, 



LUUKKTIA. iJ 

listening to Lucretia, when charmed by that softness which, con- 
trasting the rest of her character, she exhibits to none but me, struck 
by her great mental powers, proud of an unsought triumph over such 
a being, I feel as if I could Jove none but her : then, suddenly, her 
mood changes — she utters sentiments that chill and revolt me — the 
very beauty seems vanished from her face. I recall, with a sigh, the 
simple sweetness of Susan, and I feel as if I deceived both my mis- 
tress and myself. Perhaps, however, all the circumstances of this 
connection tend to increase my doubts. It is humiliating to me to 
know that I woo clandestinely and upon sufferance — that I am stealing, 
as it were, into a fortune — that I am eating Sir Miles's bread, and yet 
counting upon his death ; and this shame in myself may make me 
unconsciously unjust to Lucretia. But it is useless to reprove me 
for what is past ; and though I at first imagined you could advise me 
for the future, I now see, too clearly, that no advice could avail." 

" I grant that, too — for all you require is to make up your mind to 
be fairly off with the old love, or fairly on with the new. However, 
now you have stated your case thus frankly, if you permit me, I will 
take advantage of the strange chance of finding myself here, and w r atch, 
ponder, and counsel, if I can. This Lucretia, I own it, puzzles and 
perplexes me ; but, though no (Edipus, I will not take fright at the 
Sphinx. I suppose now it is time to return. They expect some of 
the neighbours to drink tea, and I must doff my fishing-jacket. 
Come!" 

As they strolled towards the house, Ardworth broke a silence which 
had lasted for some moments : 

_ " And how is that dear, good Pielden ? I ought to have guessed 
him at once, when you spoke of your clergymen and his young charge •. 
but I did not know he was at Southampton." 

" He has exchanged his living for a year, on account of his wife's 
health, and rather, 1 think also, with the wish to bring poor Susan 
nearer to Laughton, in the chance of her uncle seeing her. But you 
are, then, acquainted with Fielden ? " 

" Acquainted ! — my best friend. He was my tutor, and prepared 
me for Caius College. I owe him, not only the little learning I have, 
but the little good that is left in me. I owe to him apparently, also, 
whatever chance of bettering my prospects may arise from my visit 
at Laughton." 

" Notwithstanding our intimacy, we have, like most j r oung men not 
related, spoken so little of our family matters, that I do not now 
understand how you are cousin to Susan ; nor what, to my surprise 
and delight, brought you hither three days ago." 

"Faith, my story is easier to explain than your own, William J 
Here goes ! " 

But as Ardworth's recital partially involves references to family 
matters, not yet sufficiently known to the reader, we must be pardonea 
if we assume to ourselves his task of narrator, and necessarily enlarge 
on his details. 

The branch of the illustrious family of St. John, represented by Sir 
Miles, diverged from the parent stem of the Lords of Bletshoe. 
With them it placed at the sumuiit of its pedigree the name of Wil- 



20 LTJCEETIA. 

liam de St. John, the Conqueror's favourite and trusted -warrior, ami 
Qliva de Eilgiers. With them it blazoned the latter alliance, which 
pave to Sir Oliver St. John the lands of Bletshoe by the hand of 
Margaret Beauchamp (by her second marriage with the Duke of 
Somerset), grandmother "to Henry VII. In the following genera- 
tion, the younger son of a younger son had founded, partly by offices 
of state, partly by marriage with a wealthy heiress, a house of his 
own ; and in the reign of James the First, the St. Johns of Laughton 
ranked amongst the chief gentlemen of Hampshire. Prom that time 
till the accession of George III. the family, though it remained un- 
titled, had added to its consequence by intermarriages of considerable 
dignity, chosen, indeed, with a disregard for money uncommon 
amongst the English aristocracy, so that the estate was but little 
enlarged since the reign of James, though profiting, ©f course, by 
improved cultivation and the different value of money. On the other 
hand, perhaps there were scarcely ten families in the country whe 
could boast of a similar directness of descent on all sides, from the 
proudest and noblest aristocracy of the soil ; and Sir Miles St. John, 
by blood, was, almost at the distance of eight centuries, as pure a 
Norman as his ancestral William. His grandfather, nevertheless, had 
deviated from the usual disinterested practice of the family, and had 
married an heiress, who brought the quarterings of Vernon to the 
crowded escutcheon, and with these quarterings an estate of some 
£4,000 a year, popularly known by the name of Vernon Grange. This 
rare occurrence did not add to the domestic happiness of the contract- 
ing parties, nor did it lead to the ultimate increase of the Laughton 
possessions. Two sons were born. To the elder was destined the 
father's inheritance — to the younger the maternal property. One 
house is not large enough for two heirs. Nothing could exceed the 
pride of the father as a St. John, except the pride of the mother as a 
Vernon. Jealousies between the two sons began early and rankled 
deep ; nor was there peace at Laughton till the younger had carried 
away from its rental the lands of Vemon_ Grange ; and the elder 
remained just where his predecessors stood in point of possessions — 
sole lord of Laughton sole. The elder son,_ Sir Miles's father, had 
been, indeed, so chafed by the rivalry with his brother, that in disgust 
he had run away, and thrown himself, at the age of fourteen, into the 
navy. By accident or by merit he rose high in that profession, 
acquired name and fame, and lost an eye and an arm, — for which he 
was gazetted, at the same time, an admiral and a baronet. 

Thus mutilated and dignified, Sir George St. John retired from the 
profession ; and finding himself unmarried, and haunted by the appre- 
hension that if he died childless, Laughton would pass to his brother's;- 
heirs, he resolved upon consigning his remains to the nuptial couch, 
previous to the surer peace of the family vault. At the age of fifty- 
nine, the grim veteran succeeded in finding a young lady of unble- 
mished descent, and much marked with the small -pox, who consented to 
accept the only hand which Sir George had to offer. Erom this mar- 
riage sprang a numerous family- but all died in early childhood, 
frightened to death, said the neighbours, by their tender parents (con- 
sidered the ugliest couple in the county), except one boy (the present 



LUL'BJSTIA. £1 

Sir Miles) and one daughter, many years younger, destined to become 
Lucretia' s mother. Sir Miles came early into his property ; and 
although the softening advance of civilisation, with the liberal effects 
of travel, and a long residence in cities, took from him that provincial 
austerity of pride, which is only seen in stanch perfection amongst the 
the lords of a village, ha was yetlittle less susceptible to the duties of 
maintaining his lineage pure as its representation had descended to 
him, than the most superb of his predecessors. But owing, it was 
said, to an early disappointment, he led, during youth and manhood, 
a roving and desultory life, and so put off from year to year the grand 
experiment matrimonial, until he arrived at old age, with the philo- 
sophical determination to select from the other branches of his house 
the successor to the heritage of St. John. In thus arrogating to him- 
self a right_ to neglect his proper duties as head of a family, he found 
his excuse hi adopting his niece Lucretia. His sister had chosen for 
her first husband a friend and neighbour of his own, a younger son, of 
unexceptionable birth, and of very agreeable manners in society. But 
this gentleman contrived to render her life so miserable, that, though 
he died fifteen months after their marriage, his widow could scarcely 
be expected to mourn long for him. A year after Mr. Clavering's 
death, Mrs. Clavering married again, under the mistaken notion that 
she had the right to choose for herself. She married Dr. Mivers, the 
provincial physician, who had attended her husband in his last illness 
— a gentleman by education, manners, and profession, but unhappily 
the son of a silk-mercer. Sir Miles never forgave this connection. 
By her first marriage, Sir Miles's sister had one daughter, Luretia ; 
by her second marriage, another daughter, named Susan. She sur- 
vived somewhat more than a year the birth of the latter : on her 
death, Sir Miles formally (through his agent) applied to Dr. Mivers 
for his eldest niece, Lucretia Clavering, and the physician did not 
think himself justified in withholding from her the probable advantages 
of a transfer from his own roof to that of her wealthy uncle. He 
himself had been no worldly gainer by his connection ; his practice 
had suffered materially from the sympathy which was felt by the 
county families for the supposed wrongs of Sir Miles St. John, who 
was personally not only popular, but esteemed, nor less so on account 
of his pride : too dignified to refer even to his domestic annoyances, 
except to his most familiar associates— to_ them, indeed, Sir Miles had 
said briefly, that he considered a physician who abused his entrance 
into a noble family by stealing into its alliance, was a character in 
whose punishment all society had an interest. The words were 
repeated; they were thought just. Those who ventured to suggest 
that Mrs. Clavering, as a widow, was a free agent, were regarded with 
suspicion. It was the time when French principles were just begin- 
ning to be held in horror, especially in the provinces, and when every- 
thing that encroached upon the rights and prejudices of the high-born 
was called " a Trench principle." Dr. Mivers was as much scouted 
as if he had been a sans-culotte. Obliged to quit the county, he set- 
tled at a distance ; but he had a career to commence again; his wife's 
death enfeebled his spirits, and damped his exertions. He did little 
more than earn a bare subsistence, and died at last, when his only 



23 LUCKETTA. 

daughter was fourteen, poor and embarrassed. On his death-bed he 
wrote a letter to Sir Miles, reminding him that, after all, Susan was 
his sister's child, gently vindicating himself from the unmerited charge 
of treachery which had blasted his fortunes, and left his orphan penni- 
less ; and closing with a touching, yet a manly appeal to the sole rela- 
tive left to befriend her. The clergyman who had attended him in his 
dying moments took charge of this letter ; he brought it in person to 
Laughton, and delivered it to Sir Miles. Whatever his errors, the 
old baronet was no common man. He was not vindictive, though he 
could not be called forgrnng. He had considered his conduct to hit 
sister a duty owed to his name and ancestors ; she had placed herself 
and her youngest child out of the pale of his family. He would not 
receive as his niece the granddaughter of a silt-mercer. The rela- 
tionship was extinct, as, in certain countries, nobility is forfeited by a 
union with an inferior class. But, niece or not, here was a claim to 
humanity and benevolence ; and never yet had appeal been made by 
suffering to his heart and purse in vain. 

He bowed his head over the letter as his eye came to the last line, 
and remained silent so long, that the clergyman, at last, moved and 
hopeful, approached and took his hand. It was the impulse of a 
good man and a good priest. Sir Miles looked up in surprise ; but 
the calm pitying face bent on him repelled all return of pride. 

_ " Sir," he said, tremulously, and he pressed the hand that grasped 
his own, "I thank you. I am not fit at this moment to decide what 
to do : to-morrow, you shall know. And the man died poor ? not in 
want, not in want ?" 

" Comfort yourself,_ worthy sir ; he had, at the last, all that sick- 
ness and death require, except one assurance, which I ventured to 
whisper to him — I trust not too rashly— that his daughter would 
not be left unprotected. And I pray you to reflect, my dear sir, 
that " 

Sir Miles did not wait for the conclusion of the sentence ; he rose 
abruptly, and left the room. Mr. Kelden (so the good priest was 
named) felt confident of the success of his mission ; but, to win it the 
more support, he sought Lucretia. She was then seventeen : it is an 
age when the heart is peculiarly open to the household ties — to the 
memory of a mother — to the sweet name of sister. He sought this 
girl, he told his tale, and pleaded the sister's cause. Lucretia heard 
in silence; neither eye nor lip betrayed emotion; but her colour 
went and came. This was the only sign that she was moved : moved, 
but how ? Fielden's experience in the human heart could not guess. 
When he had done, she went quietly to her desk (it was in her own 
room that the conference took place)— she unlocked it with a delibe- 
rate hand — she took from it a pocket-book and a case of jewels, 
which Sir Miles had given her on her last birth-day. "Let my sister 
have these — while I Eve she shall not want! " 

" My dear young lady, it is not these things that she asks from you ; 
it is your affection, your sisterly heart, your intercession wiih her 
natural^ protector; these, in her name, I ask for — non gemmis neqiie 
purpura venale, nee auro /" 

Lucretia then, still without apparent emotion raised to the good 



LUCRETIA. 23 

man's face, deep, penetrating, but unrcvealing eyes, and said 
slowly : — 

" Is my sister like my mother, who, they say, was handsome ?" 

Much startled by this question, Fielden answered — " I never saw 
your mother, my dear ; but your sister gives promise of more than 
common comeliness." 

Lucretia's brows grew slightly compressed. " And her education 
has been, of course, neglected?" 

" Certainly, in some points — mathematics, for instance, and the- 
ology. But she knows what ladies generally know — Frencn and 
Italian, and such like. Dr. Mivers was not unlearned in the polite 
letters. Oh, trust me, my dear young lady, she will not disgrace your 
family; she will justify your uncle's favour. Plead for her!"— and 
the good man clasped his hands. 

Lucretia's eyes fell musingly on the ground ; but she resumed, 
after a short pause. 

"What does my uncle himself say?" 

" Only that he will decide to-morrow." 

"I will see him;" and Lucretia left the room as for that object. 
But when she had gained the stairs,, she paused at the large embayed 
casement, which formed a niche is the landing-place, and gazed 
over the broad domains beyond; a stern smile settled, then, upon 
her lips ; the smile seemed to say — " In this inheritance I will have 
no rival." 

Lucretia's influence with Sir Miles was great ; but here it was not 
needed. Before she saw him he had decided on his course. Her 
precocious, and apparently intuitive knowledge of character, detected, 
at a glance, the safety with which she might intercede. She did so, 
and was chid into silence. 

The next morning, Sir Miles took the priest's arm, and walked with 
him into the gardens. 

" Mr. Fielden," he said, with the air of a man who has chosen his 
course, and deprecates all attempts to make him swerve from it, " if 
I followed my own selfish wishes, I should take home this poor child. 
Stay, sir, and hear me — I am no hypocrite, and I speak honestly — I 
like young faces — I have no family of my own ; — I love Lucretia, and 
I am proud of her, but a girl brought up in adversity might be a 
better nurse, and a more docile companion — let that pass. I have 
reflected, and I feel that I cannot set to Lucretia — set to children 
unborn the example of indifference to a name degraded and a race 
adulterated : you may call this pride or prejudiee — I view it diffe- 
rently. There are duties due from an individual, duties due from a 
nation, duties due from a family ; as my ancestors thought, so think. 
I. They_ left me the charge of their name, as the fief -rent by which I 
hold their lands. 'Sdeath, sir ! pardon me the expletive ! — I was 
about to say, that if I am now a childless old man, it is because I 
have myself known temptation, and resisted. I loved, and denied 
myself what I believed my best chance of happiness, because the 
object of my attachment was not my equal — that was a bitter struggle 
— I triumphed, and I rejoice at it, though the result was to leave all 
thoughts of wedlock elsewhere odious and repugnant. These princi- 



2-1 L1IORETIA. 

pies of action Lave made a part of my creed as gentleman, if not aa 
Christian — now, to the point. I beseech you to find a fitting and 
reputable home for Miss — Miss Mivers (the lip slightly curled as the 
name was said) — I shall provide suitably for her maintenance. When 
she marries, I will dower her, provided only, and always, that her 
choice fall upon one who will not still farther degrade her lineage on 
her mother's side, — in a word, if she select a gentleman. Mr. Pielden, 
on this subject I have no more to say." 

In vain the good clergyman, whose very conscience, as well a:, 
reason, was shocked by the deliberate and argumentative manner 
with which the baronet had treated the abandonment of his sister's 
child as an absolutely moral, almost religious duty, — in vain he 
exerted himself to repel such sophisms, and put the matter hi its 
true light. It was easy for him to move Sir Miles's heart — that was 
ever gentle — that was moved already ; but the crotchet in his head 
was impregnable. The more touchingly he painted poor Susan's 
unfriended youth, her sweet character, and promising virtues, the 
more Sir Miles St. John considered himself a martyr to his principles, 
and the more obstinate in the martyrdom he became. " Poor thing ! 
poor child!" he said often, and brushed a tear from his eyes; " a 
thousand pities ! Well, well, I hope she will be happy ! Mind, 
money shall never stand in the way if she have a suitable offer ! " 
This was all the worthy clergyman, after an hour's eloquence, could 
extract from him. Out of breath, and out of patience, he gave in 
at last ; and the baronet, still holding his reluctant arm, led him back 
towards the house. After a prolonged pause. Sir Miles said abruptly : 
" I have been thinking that I may have unwittingly injured this man 
— this Mivers — while I deemed only that he injured me. As to 
reparation to his daughter, that is settled ; and after all, though I do 
not publicly acknowledge her, she is half my own niece." 

"Half?" 

" Half — the father's side don't count, of course ; and, rigidly speak- 
ing, the relationship is, perhaps, forfeited on the other. However, 
that half of it I grant. Zooks, sir, I say I grant it ! — I beg you ten 
thousand pardons for my vehemence. To return, perhaps I can show 
at least that I bear no malice to this poor doctor. He has rela- 
,ions of his own — silk mercers — trade has reverses. How are 
♦hey off?" 

Perfectly perplexed by_ this very contradictory and paradoxical, 
yet, to one better acquainted with Sir Miles, very characteristic 
benevolence, Pielden was some time before he answered. " Those 
■nembers of Dr. Mivers's_ family who are in trade are sufficiently 
)rosperous ; they have paid his debts ; they, Sir Miles, will receive 
jis daughter." 

"By no means!" cried Sir Miles, quickly; then recovering him- 
self, he added, " or, if you think that advisable, of course all inter- 
ference on my part is withdrawn." 

" Festina lente ! — not so quick, Sir Miles. I do not yet say that it 
is advisable — not because they are silk-mercers, the which, I humbly 
conceive, is no sin to exclude them from gratitude for their proffered 
kindness, but because Susan, poor child I having been brought 



LUCRETIA. 85 

up m different habits, may feel a little strange, at least at first, 
with " 

" Strange, yes ; I should hope so !" interrupted Sir Miles, taking 
snuff with much energy; "and, by the way, I am thinking that it 
would be well if you and Mrs. lielden — you are married, sir? — that 
is right — clergymen all marry ! — if you and Mrs. Fielden would take 
charge of her yourselves, it would be a great comfort to me to think 
her so well placed. We differ, sir — but I respect you. Think of 
this. Well, then, the doctor has left no relations that I can aid in 
any way." 

" Strange man ! " muttered Fielden. " Yes ; I must not let one 
poor vouth lose the opportunity offered by your — your " 

" Nrver mind what — proceed — one poor youth ; in the shop, of 
course?" 

" No ; and by his father's side (since you so esteem such vani- 
ties) of an ancient family— a sister of Dr. Mivers married Captain 
Ardworth." 

" Ardworth— a goqdish name — Ardworth, of Yorkshire." 

" Yes, of that family. It was, of course, an imprudent marriage, 
contracted while he was only an ensign. His family did not reject 
him, Sir Miles." 

" Sir, Ardworth is a good squire's family, but the name is Saxon ; 
there is no difference in race between the head of the Ardworths, if 
he were a duke, and my gardener, John Hodge — Saxon and Saxon, 
both. His family did not reject him — go on." 

" But he was a younger son in a large family — both himself and his 
wife have known all the distresses common, they tell me, to the 
poverty of a soldier, who has no resource but his pay. They have a 
son; Dr. Mivers — though so poor himself — took this boy, for he 
ioved his sister dearly, and meant to bring him up to his own pro- 
fession. Death frustrated this intention. The boy is high-spirited 
and deserving." 

"Let his education be completed — send him to the university; and 
I will see that he is put into some career, of which his father's family 
would approve. You need not mention to any one my intentions in 
this respect, not even to the lad. And now, Mr. Fielden, I have done 
my duty — at least, I think so. The longer you honour my house, the 
more I shall be pleased and grateful ; but this topic, allow me most 
respectfully to say, needs and bears no further comment. Have you 
seen the last news from the army ? " 

" The army ! — oh, fie, Sir Miles, I must speak one word more — 
may not my poor Susan have, at least, the comfort to embrace her 
sister?" 

Sir Miles mused a moment, and struck his crutch-stick thrice 
firmly on the ground. 

" I see no great objection to that ; but, by the address of tins 
letter, the poor girl is too far from Laughton to send Lucretia to 
her." 

" T can obviate that objection, Sir Miles. It is my wish to con- 
tinue to Susan her present home amongst my own children — my wife 
loves her dearly ; and had you consented to give her the shelter of 



2t5 LTJCKETIA. 

your own roof, I am sure I should not have seen a smile in the house 
for a month after. If you permit this plan, as indeed you honoured 
me by suggesting it, I can pass through Southampton on my way to 
my own living in Devonshire, and Miss Clavering can visit her sister 
there." 

" Let it be so," said Sir Miles, briefly ; and so the conversation 
closed. 

Some weeks afterwards, Lucretia went in her uncle's carriage, with 
four post-horses, with her maid and her footman — went in the state 
and pomp of heiress to Laughton — to the small lodging-house in 
which the kind pastor crowded his children and his young guest. She 
stayed there some days. She did not weep when she embraced Susan 
—she did not weep when she took leave of her ; but she showed no 
want of actual kindness, though the kindness was formal and stately. 
On her return, Sir Miles forbore to question; but he looked as if he 
expected, and would willingly permit, her to speak on what might 
naturally be uppermost at ner heart. Lucretia, however, remained 
silent, till at last the baronet colouring, as if ashamed of his curiosity, 
said — 

" Is your sister like your mother ?" 

" You forget, sir, I can have no recollection of my mother." 
" Your mother had a strong family likeness to myself." 
" She is not like you — they say she is like Dr. Mivers." 
" Oh ! " said the baronet, and he asked no more. The sisters did 
not meet again : a few letters passed between them, but the corre- 
spondence gradually ceased. 

Young Ardworth went to college, prepared by Mr. Fielden, who 
was no ordinary scholar, and an accurate and profound mathematician 
— a more important requisite than classical learning in a tutor for 
Cambridge. But Ardworth was idle, and perhaps even dissipated. 
He took a common degree, and made some debts, which were paid by 
Sir Miles without a murmur. A few letters then passed between 
the baronet and the clergyman, as to Ardworth's future destiny ; the 
latter owned that his pupil was not persevering enough for the bar, 
nor steady enough for the church. Ihese were no great faults in Sir 
Miles's eyes. He resolved, after an effort, to judge himself of the 
capacities of the young man, and so came the invitation to Laughton. 
Ardworth was greatly surprised when Fielden communicated to him 
this invitation, for hitherto he had not conceived the slightest sus- 
picion of Ms benefactor — he had rather, and naturally, supposed that 
some relation of his father's had paid for his maintenance at the 
miversity ; and he knew enough ot the family history to look upon 
Sir Miles as the proudest of men. How was it, then, that he who 
would not receive the daughter of Dr. Mivers, his own niece, would 
invite the nephew of Dr. Mivers, who was no relation to him ? How- 
ever, his curiosity was excited, and Fielden was urgent that he should 
go ; — to Laughton, therefore, had he gone.. 

We have now brought down, to the opening of our narrative, the 
general records of the family it concerns ; we have reserved our 
account of the rearing and the character of the personage most impor- 



LUCKET1A. 27 

tant, perhaps in tne development of its events — Lucretia Clavering ; 
in order to place singly before the reader, the portrait of her dark, 
misguided, and ill-boding youth. 



CHAPTER n. 



LTJCEETIA. 



When Lucretia first came to the bouse of Sir Miles St. John, she 
was an infant about four years old. The baronet then lived princi- 
pally in London, with occasional visits rather to the Continent or a 
watering-place, than to his own family mansion. He did not pay any 
minute attention to his little ward — satisfied that her nurse was 
sedulous, and her nursery airy and commodious. When at the age of 
seven, she began to interest him, and he himself, approaching old age, 
began seriously to consider, whether he should select her as his 
heiress, for hitherto he bad not formed any decided or definite notions 
on the matter — he was startled by a temper so vehement, so self- 
willed and sternly imperious, so obstinately bent upon attaining its 
object, so indifferently contemptuous of warning, reproof, coaxing, or 
punishment, that her governess honestly came to him in despair. 

The management of this unmanageable child interested Sir Miles. 
It caused him to think of Lucretia seriously ; it caused him to have 
her much in his society, and always in his thoughts ; the result was, 
that by amusing and occupying him, she forced a stronger hold on his 
affections than she might have done had she been more like the ordi- 
nary run of commonplace children. Of all dogs, there is no dog that 
so attaches a master as a dog that snarls at everybody else, — that no 
other hand can venture to pat with impunity ; of all horses, there is 
none which so flatters the rider, from Alexander downwards, as a 
horse that nobody else can ride. Extend this principle to the human 
species, and you may understand why Lucretia became so dear to Sir 
Miles St John — she got at his heart through his vanity. For though, 
at times, her brow darkened, and her eye flashed even at his remon- 
strance, she was yet no sooner in his society than she made a marked 
distinction between him and the subordinates, who had hitherto 
sought to control her. Was this affection ? — he thought so. Alas ! 
what parent can trace the working of a child's mind — springs moved 
by an idle word from a nurse — a whispered conference between hire- 
lings ! Was it possible that Lucretia had not often been meanced, as 
the direst evil that could befal her, with her uncle's displeasure; that 
long before she could be sensible of mere worldly loss or profit, she 
was not impressed with a vague sense of Sir Miles's power over her 
fate ; nay, when trampling, in childish wrath and scorn, upon some 
menial's irritable feelings, was it possible that she had not been told 
that, but for Sir Miles, she would be little better thar a servant her- 

d 2 



28 LUCltETlA. 

self ? Be this as it may, all weakness is prone to dissimulate ; and 
rare and happy is the child whose feelings are as pure and transparent 
as the fond parent deems them. There is something in children, too, 
which seems like an instinctive deference to the aristocratic appear- 
ances which sway the world. Sir Miles's stately person — his imposing 
dress, the respect with which he was surrounded — all tended to beget 
notions of superiority and power, to which it was no shame to suc- 
cumb, as it was to Miss Black, the governess, whom the maids 
answered pertly, or Martha, the nurse, whom Miss Black snubbed if 
Lucretia Tore her frock. 

Sir Miles's affection once won — his penetration not perhaps 
blinded to her more evident faults, but his self-love soothed toward? 
regarding them leniently — there was much in Lucretia's external 
gilts which justified the predilection of the haughty man. As a child, 
she was beautiful, and, perhaps, from her very imperfections of 
temper, her beauty had that air of distinction which the love of com 
mand is apt to confer. If Sir Miles was with his friends when 
Lucretia swept into the room, he was pleased to hear them call her 
their little " princess," and pleased yet more at a certain dignified 
tranquillity with which she received their caresses or their toys, and 
which he regarded as the sign of a superior mind : nor was it long, 
indeed, before what we call a superior mind developed itself in the 
young Lucretia. All children are quick till they are set methodically 
to study ; but Lucretia's quickness defied even that numbing ordeal, 
by which half of us are rendered duuees. Rapidity and precision in 
ah the tasks set to her, — in the comprehension of all the explanations 
given to her questions, evinced singular powers of readiness and 
reasoning. 

As she grew older, she became more reserved and thoughtful. 
Seeing but few children of her own age, and mixing intimately with 
none, her mind was debarred from the usual objects which distract 
the vivacity, the restless and wondrous observation, of childhood. 
She came in and out of Sir Miles's library of a morning, or his draw- 
ing-room of an evening, till her hour for rest, with unquestioned and 
sometimes unnoticed freedom ; she listened to the conversation around 
her, and formed her own conclusions unchecked. It has a great 
influence upon a child, whether for good or for evil, to mix early and 
habitually with those grown up — for good to the mere intellect always 
— the evil depends upon the character and discretion of those the 
child sees and hears — " Reverence the greatest is due to the children," 
exclaims the wisest of the Romans;* that is to say, that we must 
revere the candour and inexperience, and innocence of their minds. 

Now Sir Miles's habitual associates were persons of the world : 
well-bred and decorous, indeed, before children, as the best of the old 
school were — avoiding all anecdotes, all allusions, for which the pru- 
dent matron would send her girls out of the room; but, with that 
reserve, speaking of the world as the world goes : if talking of young 
A — , calculating carelessly what he would have when old A — , his 
father, died — naturally giving to wealth, and station, and ability, 
their fixed importance in life — not over-apt to single out for eulogiun 

* Cicero. The sentiment is borrowed by Juvenal. 



micrjstia. 31 

some quiet goodness, rather inclined to speak '\ncholv which are apt 
sions to virtue — rarely speaking but with respev placed, were not 
seemings which rule mankind; — all these had their*ili, once assured 
upon that keen, quick, yet moody and reflective mtellecDPsed on the 
Sir Miles removed at last to Laughton. He gave up Lonmary dissi- 
he acknowledged not to himself ; but it was because he had "\pts that 
his age — most of his old set were gone — new hours, new habivyever 
stolen in. He had ceased to be of importance as a marrying manage 
a personage of fashion ; lus health was impaired ; he shrank from the 
fatigues of a contested election ; he resigned his seat in Parliament 
for his native county, and, ouce settled at Laughton, the life there 
soothed and flattered him — there all his former claims to distinction 
were still fresh. He amused himself by collecting, in his old haUs 
and chambers, his statues and pictures, and felt that, without fatigue 
or trouble, he was a greater man at Laughton in his old age, than he 
had been in London during his youth. 

Lucretia was then thirteen. Three years afterwards, Olivier Dali- 
bard was established in the house, and from that time a great change 
became noticeable in her. The irregular vehemence of her temper 
gradually subsided, and was replaced by an habitual self-command, 
which rendered the rare deviations from it more effective and 
imposing. Her pride changed its character wholly and permanently; 
no word, no look of scorn to the low-born and the poor escaped her. 
The masculine studies which her erudite tutor opened to a grasping 
and inquisitive mind, elevated her very errors above the petty distinc- 
tions of class. She imbibed earnestly what Dalibard assumed or felt, 
— the more dangerous pride of the fallen angel, — and set up the intel- 
lect as a deity. All belonging to the mere study of mind charmed 
and enchained her ; but active and practical in her very reveries, if 
she brooded, it was to scheme, to plot, to weave, web, and mesh, and 
to smile in haughty triumph at her own ingenuity and daring. The 
first lesson of mere worldly wisdom teaches us to command temper ; 
it was worldly wisdom that made the once impetuous girl calm, tran- 
quil and serene. Sir Miles was pleased by a change that removed 
from Lucretia' s outward character its chief blot; perhaps, as his 
frame declined, he sighed sometimes to think that with so much 
majesty there appeared but little tenderness ; he took, however, the 
merits with the faults, and was content upon the whole. 

If the Provencal had taken more than common pains with his young 
pupil, the pains were not solely disinterested. In plunging her mind 
wnidst that profound corruption which belongs only to intellect culti- 
vated in scorn of good, and in suppression of heart, he had his own 
views to serve. He watched the age when the passions ripen; and 
le grasped at the fruit which his training sought to mature. In the 
luman heart ill regulated there is a dark desire for the forbidden. 
This Lucretia felt — this her studies cherished, and her thoughts 
orooded over. She detected, with the quickness of her sex, the pre- 
septor's stealthy aim. She started not at the danger. Proud of her 
naa'-ery over herself, she rather triumphed in luring on into weakness 
this master-intelligence which had lighted up her own, — to see her 
•lave in her teacher — to despise or to pity lnm whom she had first 



SO LUCSETIA. 

contemplated with awe. And with this mere pride of the understand- 
ing might be connected that of the sex ; she had attained the years 
when woman is curious to know and to sound her power. To inflame 
Dalibard's cupidity or ambition was easy ; but to touch his heart — 
that marble heart ! — this had its dignity and its charm. Strange to 
say, she succeeded. The passion, as well as interests, of this dangerous 
and able man became enlisted m his hopes ; and now the game played 
between them had a terror in its suspense ; for if Dalibard penetrated 
not into the recesses ©f his pupil's complicated nature, she was far 
from having yet sounded the hell that lay black and devouring beneath 
his own. Not through her affections — those he scarce hoped for — 
but through her inexperience, her vanity, her passions, he contem- 
plated the path to his victory over her soul and her fate. And so 
resolute, so wily, so unscrupulous was this person who had played 
upon all the subtlest keys and chords in the scale of turbulent life, 
that, despite the lofty smile with which Lucretia at length heard and 
repelled his suit, he had no fear of the ultimate issue, — when all his 
projects were traversed, — all his mines and stratagems abruptly 
brought to a close, by an event which he had wholly unforeseen — the 
appearance of a rival ; the ardent and almost purifying love, which, 
escaping awhile from all the demons he had evoked, she had, with a 
girl's frank heart and impulse, conceived for Mainwaring. And here, 
indeed, was the great crisis in Lucretia's life and destiny. So inter- 
woven with her nature had become the hard calculations of the under- 
.standing ; so habitual to her now was the zest for scheming, which 
revels in the play and vivacity of intrigue and plot, and which Shak- 
speare has, perhaps, intended chiefly to depict in the villany of Iago; 
that it is probable Lucretia could never become a character thoroughly 
amiable and honest. But with a happy and well-placed love, her am- 
bition might have had legitimate vents ; her restless energies, the 
woman's natural field in sympathies for another. The heart once 
opened, softens by use : gradually and unconsciously the interchange 
of affection, the companionship with an upright and ingenuous mind 
(for virtue is not only beautiful, it is contagious) might nave had their 
redeeming and hallowing influence. Happier, indeed, had it been, if 
her choice had fallen upon a more commanding and lofty nature. But 
perhaps it was the very meekness and susceptibility of Mainwaring's 
temper, relieved from feebleness by his talents, which, once in play, 
were undeniably great, that pleased her by contrast with her own 
hardness of spirit and despotism of will. 

That Sir Miles should have been blind to the position of the lovers, 
is less disparaging to his penetration than it may appear ; for the very 
imprudence with which Lucretia abandoned herself to the society of 
Mainwaring during his visits »& Laughton, took a resemblance to 
candour. _ Sir Miles knew his niece to be more than commonly clever 
and well informed ; that she, like him, should feel that the conversa- 
tion of a superior young man was a relief to the ordinary babble of 
their country neighbours, was natural enough ; and if now and then a 
doubt, a fear, had crossed his mind, and rendered him more touched 
than he liked to own by Vernon's remarks, it had vanished upon per- 
ceiving that Lucretia never seemed a shade more pensive in Mmd- 



LUC11ETIA. 31 

vraring's absence., Tlie listlessncss and the melancholy which are apt 
to accompany love, especially where unpropitiously placed, were not 
visible on the surface of this strong nature. In truth, once assured 
that Maiuwaring returned her affection, Lucretia reposed on the 
future with a calm and resolute confidence ; and her customary dissi- 
mulation closed like an unruffled sea over all the under-currents that 
met and played below. Still Sir Miles's attention once, however 
slightly aroused to the recollection that Lucretia was at the age 
when woman naturally meditates upon love and marriage, had 
suggested, afresh and more vividly, a project which had before 
been indistinctly conceived — namely, the union of the divided 
branches of his bouse, by the marriage of the last male of the Ver- 
nons with the heiress of the St. Johns. Sir Miles had seen much 
of Vernon himself, at various intervals : he had been present at his 
christening, though he had refused to be his godfather, for fear of 
raising undue expectations ; he had visited and munificently " tipped" 
him at Eton ; he had accompanied him to his quarters when he joined 
the Prince's regiment ; he had come often in contact with him, when, 
at the death of his father, Vernon retired from the army and blazed 
in the front ranks of metropolitan fashion ; he had given him counsel 
and had even lent him money. Vernon's spendthrift habits, and dissi- 
pated if not dissolute life, had certainly confirmed the old baronet in 
his intentions to trust the lands of Laughton to the lesser risk which 
property incurs in the hands of a female, if tightly settled on her, 
than in the more colossal and multiform luxuries of an expensive 
man ; and to do him justice, during the flush of Vernon's riotous 
career, he had shrunk from the thought of confiding the happiness 
of his niece to so unstable a partner. But of late, whether from his 
impaired health, or his broken fortunes, Vernon's follies had been less 
glaring. He had now arrived at the mature age of thirty-three, when 
wild oats may reasonably be sown. The composed and steadfast 
character of Lucretia might serve to guide and direct him : and Sir 
Miles was one of those who hold the doctrine that a reformed rake 
makes the best husband ; add to this, there was nothing in Vernon's 
reputation (once allowing that his thirst for pleasure was slaked) 
which could excite serious apprehensions. Through all his difficul- 
ties, he had maintained his honour unblemished : a thousand traits of 
amiability and kindness of heart made him popular and beloved. He 
was nobody's enemy but his own. His very distresses- -the prospect 
of his ruin, if left unassisted by Sir Miles's testamentary dispositions 
— were arguments in his favour. And, after all, though Lucretia was 
a nearer relation, Vernon was in truth the direct male heir, and, 
according to the usual prejudices of family, therefore, the fitter repre- 
sentative of the ancient line. With these feelings and views, he had 
invited Vernon to his house, and we have seen already that his favour- 
able impressions had been confirmed by the visit. 

And here, we must say, that Vernon himself had been brought up 
in boyhood and youth to regard himself the presumptive inheritor 
of Laughton. It had been, from time immemorial, the custom of 
the St. Johns to pass by the claims of females in the settlement of 
ihe entails ; from male to male the estate had gone — furnishing war- 



32 liUCBSTU.. 

riors to the army, and senators to the state. And if when Lucretia 
first came to Sir Miles's house, the bright prospect seemed somewhat 
obscure, still the mesalliance of the mother, and Sir Miles's obstinate 
resentment thereat, seemed to warrant the supposition that he would 
probably only leave to the orphan the usual portion of a daughter of 
the house, and that the lands would go in their ordinary destination. 
This belief, adopted passively, and as a thing of course, had had a 
very prejudicial effect upon Vernon's career. What mattered that he 
over-enjoyed his youth, that the subordinate property of the Vernons, 
a paltry four or five thousand pounds a year, went a little too fast — 
the splendid estates of Laughton would recover all. From this dream 
he had only been awakened two or three years before, by an attach- 
ment he had formed to the portionless daughter of an earl ; and the 
Grange being too far encumbered to allow him the proper settlements 
which the ladVs family required, it became a matter of importance to 
ascertain Sir Miles's intentions. Too delicate himself to sound them, 
he had prevailed upon the earl, who was well acquainted with Sk 
Miles, to take Laughton in his way to his own seat in Dorsetshire, 
and, without betraying the grounds of his interest in the question, 
learn carelessly, as it were, the views of the wealthy man. The result 
had been a severe and terrible disappointment. Sir Miles had then 
fully determined upon constituting Lucretia his heiress, and, with 
the usual openness of his character, he had plainly said so, upon the 
very first covert and polished allusion to the subject, which the ear 
slily made. This discovery, in breaking off all hopes of a union with 
Lady Mary Stanville, had crushed more than mercenary expectations. 
It affected, through his heart, Vernon's health and spirits ; it rankled 
deep, and was resented at first as a fatal injury. _ But Vernon's native 
nobility of disposition gradually softened an indignation which his 
reason convinced him was groundless and unjust. Sir Miles had 
never encouraged the expectations which Vernon's family and 
himself had unthinkingly formed. The baronet was master of his 
own fortune, and after all, was it not more natural that he should 
prefer the child he had brought up and reared, to a distant relation, 
little more than an acquaintance, simply because man succeeded to 
man in the mouldy pedigree of the St. Johns ? And, Mary fairly lost 
to him, his constitutional indifference to money, a certain French 
levity of temper, a persuasion that his life was nearing its wasted 
close, had left him without regret, as without resentment, at his kins- 
man's decision. His boyish affection for the hearty, generous old 
gentleman returned, and though he abhorred the country, he had, 
without a single interested thought or calculation, cordially accepted 
the Baronet's hospitable overtures, and deserted, for the wilds of 
Hampshire, " the sweet shady side 'of Pall Mall." 

We may now enter the drawing-room at Laughton, in which were 
already assembled several of the families residing in the more imme- 
diate neighbourhood, and who sociably dropped in to chat around the 
national tea-table, play a rubber at whist, or make up, by the help of 
two or three children and two or three grandpapas, a merry country 
dance. For, m that happy day, people were much more sociable than 
they are now. in the houses 01 our rural Thanes. Our country seats 



1ATCRETJA 33 

became bustling and animated after the Birthday ; many even of the 
more important families resided, indeed, all the year round on their 
estates. The Continent was closed to us ; the fastidious exclusiveness 
■which comes from habitual residence in cities, had not made thai 
demarcation in castes and in talk, between neighbour and neighbour, 
which exists now. Our squires were less educated, less refined, but 
more hospitable and unassuming. _ In a word, there was what does 
not exist now, except in some districts remote from London, — a rural 
society for those who sought it. 

The party, as we enter, is grouped somewhat thus — but first, we 
must cast a glance at the room itself, which rarely failed to be the 
first object to attract a stranger's notice. It was a long, and not par- 
ticularly well-proportioned apartment, according, at least, to modern 
notions, for it had rather the appearance of two rooms thrown into 
one. At the distance of about thirty-five feet, the walls, before some- 
what narrow, were met by an arch, supported by carved pilasters, 
which opened into a space nearly double the width of the previous 
part of the room, with, a domed ceiling, and an embayed window of 
such depth, that the recess almost formed a chamber in itself. But 
both these divisions of the apartment corresponded exactly in point of 
decoration ; they had the same small panelling, painted a very light 
green, which seemed almost white by candle-light, each compartment 
wrought with an arabesque, the same enriched frieze and cornice ; they 
had the same high mantel-pieces, ascending to the ceiling, with the 
arms of St. John in bold rehef. They had too the same old-fashioned 
and venerable furniture, draperies of thick figured velvet, with im- 
mense chairs and sofas to correspond, interspersed, it is true, with 
more modern and commodious inventions of the upholsterer's art, in 
grave stuffed leather, or lively chintz. Two windows, nearly as deep 
as that in the further division, broke the outline of the former one, 
and helped to give that irregular and noohy appearance to the apart- 
ment, which took all discomfort from its extent, and furnished all 
convenience for solitary study or detached flirtation. With little 
respect for the carved work of the panels, the walls were covered with 
pictures brought by Sir Miles from Italy; here and there marble 
busts and statues gave lightness to the character of the room, and 
harmonized well with that half-Italian mode of decoration which 
belongs to the period of James the First. The shape of the chamber, 
in its divisions, lent itself admirably to that friendly and sociable inter- 
mixture of amusements which reconciles the tastes of young and old. 
In the first division, near the fire-place, Sir Mile?, seated in his easy- 
chair, and sheltered from the opening door by a seven-fold tapestry 
screen, was still at chess with Ms librarian. .At a little distance, a 
middle-aged gentleman, and three turbaned matrons, were cutting in 
at whist — shilling points — with a half-crown bet, optional, and not 
much ventured on. On tables, drawn into the recesses of the win- 
dows, were the day's newspapers, Giiray's caricatures, the last new 
publications, and such other ingenious suggestions to chit-chat. And 
round these tables grouped those who had not yet found elsewhere 
their evening's amusement ; two or three shy young clergymen, the 
parish doctor, four or five squires, who felt great interest in. politics, 



34 I.UCRRTIA. 

but never dreamt of the extravagance of taking in a daily paper, and 
who now, monopolising all the journals they could find, began fairly 
with the heroic resolution to skip nothing, from the first advertise- 
ment to the printer's name. Amidst one of these groups, Mainwaring 
liad bashfully ensconced himself. In the further division, the 
chandelier, suspended from the domed ceiling, threw its cheerful 
light over a large circular table below, on which gleamed the pon- 
derous tea-urn of massive silver, with its usual accompaniments. Nor 
were wanting there, in addition to those airy nothings, sliced infini- 
tesimally, from a French roll, the more substantial, and now exiled 
cheer, of cakes — plum and seed, Yorkshire and saffron — attesting the 
light hand of the liousekeeper, and the strong digestion of the guests. 
Round this table were seated, in full gossip, the maids and the 
matrons, with a slight sprinkling of the bolder young gentlemen who 
had been taught to please the fair. The warmth of the evening 
allowed the upper casement to be opened and the curtains drawn 
aside, and the July moonlight feebly struggled against the blaze of 
the lights within. At this table it was Miss Clavering's obvious duty 
to preside ; but that was a complaisance to which she rarely conde- 
scended. Nevertheless, she had her own way of doing the honours 
of her uncle's house, which was not without courtesy and grace : to 
glide from one to the other, exchange a few friendly words, see that 
each set had its well-known amusements, and, finally, sit quietly down to 
converse with some one who, from gravity or age, appeared most to 
neglect, or be neglected by the rest, was her ordinary, and not un- 
popular mode of welcoming the guests at Laughton — not unpopular, 
for she thus avoided all interference with the flirtations and conquests 
of humbler damsels, whom her station and her endowments might 
otherwise have crossed or humbled, while she insured the good word 
of the old, to whom the young are seldom so attentive. But if a 
stranger of more than provincial repute chanced to be present, — if 
some stray member of parliament, or barrister on the circuit, or wan- 
dering artist, accompanied any of the neighbours, to him Lucretia 
gave more earnest and undivided attention. Him she sought to draw 
mto a conversation deeper than the usual babble, and with her calm, 
searching eyes, bent on him while he spoke, seemed to fathom the 
intellect she set in play. But as yet, this evening, she had not made 
her appearance — a sin against etiquette veiy unusual in her. Perhaps 
her recent conversation with Dalibard had absorbed her thoughts to 
forgetfulness of the less important demands on her attention. Her 
absence had not interfered with the gaiety at the tea-table, which was 
frank even to noisiness ; as it centred round the laughing face of 
Ardworth, who, though unknown to most or all of the ladies present, 
beyond a brief introduction to one or two of the first-comers from Sir 
Miles (as the host had risen from his chess to bid them welcome), had 
already contrived to make himself perfectly at home, and outra- 
geously popular. Niched between two bouncing lasses, he had 
commenced acquaintance with them in a strain of familiar drollery 
and fun, which had soon broadenedits circle, and now embraced the 
whole group in the happy contagion of good humour and young 
animal spirits. Gabriel, allowed to sit up later than nis usual' hour, 



LTJCBETIA. 35 

had not, as might have been expected, attached himself co this circle, 
nor indeed, to any; he might be seen moving quietly about — now 
contemplating the pictures on the wall with a curious eye — now 
pausing at the whist-table, and noting the game with the interest of an 
embryo gamester — now throwing himself on an ottoman, and trying 
to coax towards him Dash or Ponto — trying in vain, for both the dogs 
abhorred him ; yet still, through all this general movement, had any 
one taken the pains to observe him closely, it might have been suffi- 
ciently apparent that his keen, bright, restless eye, from the corner of 
its long, sly lids, roved chiefly towards the three persons whom he 
approached the least — his father, Mainwaring, and Mr. Vernon. 
This last had ensconced himself apart from all, in the angle formed 
by one of the pilasters of the arch that divided the room, so that he 
was in command, as it were, of both sections. Reclined, with the 
careless grace that seemed inseparable from every attitude and 
motion of his person, in one of the great velvet chairs, with a book in 
his hand, which, to say truth, was turned upside down, but in the 
lecture of which he seemed absorbed — he heard at one hand the 
mirthful laughter that circled round young Ardworth, or, in its pauses, 
caught on the other side, muttered exclamations from the grave whist- 
players — " If you had but trumped that diamond, ma'am!" — " Bless 
me, sir, it was the best heart ! " And somehow or other, both the 
laughter and the exclamations affected him alike, with what then was 
called " the spleen " — for the one reminded him of his own young days 
of joyless, careless mirth, of which his mechanical gaiety now was but. 
a mocking ghost, and the other seemed a satire, a parody, on the fierce 
but noiseless rapture of gaming, through which his passions had 
passed — when thousands had slipped away with a bland smile, pro- 
voking not one of those natural ebullitions of emotion which there 
accompanied the loss of a shilling point. And besides this, Vernon 
nad been so accustomed to the success of the drawing-room, to be a 
somebody and a something in the company of wits and princes,_ that 
he felt, for the first time, a sense of insignificance in this provincial 
circle. Those fat squires had heard nothing of Mr. Vernon, except 
that he would not have Laughton — he had no acres, no vote in their 
county — he was a nobody to them. Those ruddy maidens, though 
now and then, indeed, one or two might steal an admiring glance at a 
figure of elegance so unusual, regarded him not with the fcniale 
interest he had been accustomed to inspire. They felt instinctively 
that he could be nothing to them, nor they to him — a mere London 
fop, and uot'half so handsome as Squires Bluff and Chuff. 

ltousing himself from this little vexation to his vanity, with a con- 
scious smile at his own weakness, Vernon turned his looks towards 
the door, waiting for Lucretia's entrance, and since her uncle's 
address to him, feeling that new and indescribable interest in her 
appearance, which is apt to steal into every breast, when what was 
before but an indifferent acquaintance, is suddenly enhaloed with the 
light of a possible wife. At length, the door opened, and Lucretia 
entered. Mr. Vernon lowered his book, and gazed with an earnest- 
ness that partook both of doubt and admiration. 

Lucretia Clavering was tall — tall beyond what is admitted to be 



SO LUCKET1A. 

tall in .voman ; but in ner height there was nothing either awkward 
or masculine — a figure more perfect never served for model to a 
sculptor. The dress at that day, unbecoming as we now deem it, 
was not to her — at least, on the whole — disadvantageous. The short 
waist gave greater sweep to her majestic length of limb, while the 
classic thinness of the drapery betrayed the exact proportion and the 
exquisite contour. The arms then were worn bare almost to the 
shoulder, and Lucretia's arms were not moie faultless in shape than 
dazzling in their snowy colour — the stately neck, the tailing shoulders, 
the firm, slight, yet rounded bust — all would have charmed equally 
the artist and the sensualist. Fortunately, the sole defect of her form 
was not apparent at a distance : that defect was in the hand ; it. had not 
the usual faults of female youthfulness — the superfluity of flesh, the 
too rosy healthfulness of colour; on the contrary, it was small and thin, 
but it was, nevertheless, more the hand of a man ttian a woman; 
the shape had a man's nervous distinctness, the veins swelled like 
sinews, the joints of the fingers were marked and prominent. In that 
hand, it almost seemed as if the iron force of the character betrayed 
itself. But, as we have said, this slight defect which few, if seen, 
would hypercriticalfy notice, could not of course be perceptible as 
she moved slowly up the room ; and Vernon's eye, glancing over the 
noble figure, rested upon the face. Was it handsome? — was it 
repelling ? Strange that in feature it had pretensions to the highest 
order of beauty, and yet, even that experienced connoisseur in female 
charms was almost puzzled what sentence to pronounce. The hair, 
as was the fashion of the day, clustered in profuse curls over the fore- 
head, but could not conceal a slight line or wrinkle between the 
brows ; and this line, rare in women at any age, rare even, in men at 
hers, gave an expression at once of thought and sternness to the 
whole face. The eyebrows themselves were straight, and not 
strongly marked; — a shade or twe perhaps too light, a fault still 
more apparent m the lashes ; the eyes were large, full, and though 
bright, astonishingly calm and deep, at least in ordinary moments ; 
yet withal they wanted the charm of that steadfast and open look, 
which goes at once to the heart, and invites its trust ; then- expres- 
sion was rather vague and abstracted. She usually looked aslant 
while she spoke, and this, which with some appears but shyness, in 
one so self-collected had an air of falsehood. But when, at times, 
if earnest, and bent rather on examining those she addressed than 
guarding herself from penetration, she fixed those eyes upon you 
with sudden and direct scrutiny, the gaze impressed you power- 
fully, and haunted you with a strange spell. The eye itself was of 
a peculiar and displeasing colour — not blue, nor grey, nor black, 
nor hazel, but rather of that cat-like green, which is drowsy in the 
light, and vivid in the shade. The profile was purely Greek, and 
so seen, Lucretia's beauty seemed incontestable ; Dut in front face, 
and still more when inclined between the two, all the features took 
a sharpness, that, however regular, had something chilling and 
severe ; the mouth was small, but the Hps were thin and pale, and had 
an expression of effort and contraction, which added to the distrust 
that her sidelong glance was calculated to inspire, The teeth were 



U/CRET1A. 37 

doz/.lingly white, but sha.-p and thin, and the eye-teeth were much 
longer than the rest. The complexion was pale, but without mucli 
delicacy ; the palenesss seemed not natural to it, but rather that hun 
which study and late vigils give to men ; so that she wanted the 
freshness and bloom of youth, and looked older than she was — au 
effect confirmed by an absence of roundness in the cheek, not notice- 
able in the profile, but rendering the front face somewhat harsh as 
well as sharp. In a word, the face and the figure were not in har- 
mony ; the figure prevented you from pronouncing her to be mascu- 
line — the face took from the figure the charm of feminacy. It was 
the head of the young Augustus upon the form of Agrippina. One 
touch more, and we close a description, which alieady perhaps the 
reader may consider frivolously minute. If you had placed before the 
mouth and lower part of the face a mask or bandage, the whole 
character of the upper face would have changed at once ; the eye lost 
its glittering falseness, the brow its sinister contraction; you would 
have pronounced the face not only beautiful, but sweet and womanly. 
Take that bandage suddenly away, and the change would have 
startled you, and startled you the more, because you could detect no 
sufficient defect or disproportion in the lower part of the countenance to 
explain it. It was as if the mouth was the key to the whole : the key 
nothing without the text, the text uncomprehended without the key. 

Such, then, was Lucretia Clavering in outward appearance, at the 
age of twenty — striking to the most careless eye — interesting and 
perplexing the student in that dark language, never yet deciphered, 
— the human countenance. The reader must have observed, that the 
effect every face that he remarks for the first time produces, is diffe- 
rent from the impression it leaves upon him when habitually seen. 
Perhaps, no two persons differ more from each other, than does the 
same countenance in our earliest recollection of it from the counte- 
nance regarded in the familiarity of repeated intercourse. And this 
was especially the case with Lucretia Clavering's; the first impulse 
of nearly all who beheli it was distrust that partook of fear ; it almost 
inspired you with a sense of danger. The mdgment rose up against 
it ; the heart set itself on its guard. But this uneasy sentiment soon 
died away with most observers, in admiration at the chiselled outline, 
which, like the Grecian sculpture, gained the more the more it was 
examined, in respect for the intellectual power of the expression, 
and in fascinated pleasure at the charm of a smile, rarely employed, 
•t is true, but the more attractive, both for that reason and for its 
sudden effect in giving brightness and persuasion to an aspect that 
needed them so much. It was literally like the abrupt breaking out 
of a sunbeam ; and the repellent impression of the face, thus fami- 
liarised away, the matchless form took its natural influence : so that, 
while one who but saw Lucretia for a momei_t, might have pro- 
nounced her almost plain, and certainly not prepossessing in appear- 
ance, those with whom she lived, those whom she sought to please, 
those who saw her daily, united in acknowledgment of her beauty; 
and if thev still felt awe, attributed it only to the force of her 
understanding. 

As she now came midway up the room, Gabriel started from hi* 



38 LUCRETIA 

seat, and ran to her caressingly. Lucretia bent down, and placed her 
hand upon his fair locks. As she did so, he whispered — 

" Mr. Vernon has been watching for you." 

"' Hush ! Where is your father?" 

" Behind the screen, at chess with Sir Miles." 

" With Sir Miles !" and Lucretia's eye fell with the direct gaze we 
have before referred to, upon the boy's face. 

•' I have been looking over them pretty often," said he, meaningly : 
" they have talked of nothing but the game." 

Lucretia lifted her head, and glanced round with her furtive eye; 
the boy divined the search, and with a scarce perceptible gesture, 
pointed her attention to Mainwaring's retreat. Her vivid smile 
passed over her lips, as she bowed slightly to her lover, and then 
withdrawing the hand which Gabriel had taken in his own, she moved 
on, passed Vernon with a commonplace word or two, and was soon 
exchanging greetings with the gay merry-makers in the farther part of 
the room. A few minutes afterwards, the servants entered, the tea-table 
was removed, chairs thrust back — a single lady of a certain age volun- 
teered her services at the piano, and dancing began within the ample 
space which the arch fenced off from the whist-players. Vernon had 
watched his opportunity, and at the first sound of the piano had 
gained Lucretia's side, and with grave politeness pre-engaged her hand 
for the opening dance. 

At that day, though it is not so very long ago, gentlemen were not 
ashamed to dance, and to dance well; it was no languid saunter 
through a quadrille ; it was fair, deliberate, skilful dancing, amongst 
the courtly ; free, bounding movement amongst the gay. 

Vernon, as might be expected, was the most admired performer of 
the evening ; but he was thinking very little of the notice he at last 
excited ; he was employing such ingenuity as his experience of life 
supplied to the deficiencies of a very imperfect education, limited to 
the little flogged into him at Eton, in deciphering the character and 
getting at the heart of his fair partner. 

" I wonder you do not make Sir Miles take you to London, my 
cousin, if you will allow me to call you so. You ought to have been 
presented." 

" I have no wish to go to London yet." 

" Yet !" said Mr. Vernon, with the somewhat fade gallantry of his 
day ; " beauty even like yours has little time to spare." 

" Hands across, hands across !" cried Mr. Ardworth. 

" And," continued Mr. Vernon, as soon as a pause was permitted 
to him, " there is a song which the Prince sings, written by some 
sensible old-fashioned fellow, which says — 

" * Gather your rosebuds while you may, 
For Time is still a flying:.' " 

" You have obeyed the moral of the song yourself, I believe, 
Mr. Vernon." 

" Call me cousin, or Charles— Charley, if you like — as most of my 
friends do : nobody ever calls me Mr. Vernon ; I don't know myself 
6y that name " 



LUCItETIA. 39 

" Down the middle, we arc all waiting for you," shouted Aid- 
worth. 

And down the middle with wondrous grace glided the exquisite 
nankeens of Charley Vernon. 

The dance now, thanks to Ardworth, became too animated and 
riotous to allow more than a few broken monosyllables till Vernon 
and his partner gained the end of the set, and then, flirting his partner's 
fan, he recommenced — 

" Seriously, my cousin, you must sometimes feel very much moped 
here." 

" Never!" answered Lucretia. Not once yet had her eye rested 
on M r. Vernon. She felt that she was sounded. 

" Yet I am sure you have a taste for the pomps and vanities. 
Aha ! there is ambition under those careless curls," said Mr. Vernon, 
with his easy adorable impertinence. 

Lucretia winced. 

" But if I were ambitious, what field for ambition could I find in 
London ? " 

" The same as Alexander — empire, my cousin." 
You forget that I am not a man. Man, indeed, may hope for an 
empire. It is something to be a Pitt, or even a Warren Hastings." 

Mr. Vernon stared. Was this stupidity, or what ? 

" A woman has an empire more undisputed than Mr. Pitt's, and 
more pitiless than that of Governor Hastings." 

" Oh pardon me, Mr. Vernon " 



" Charles, if you please." 
Lucretia's brow darkened. 



Pardon me," she repeated ; " but these compUments, if such they 
are meant to be, meet a very ungrateful return. A woman's empire 
over gauzes and ribbons, over tea-tables and drums, over fops and 
coquettes, is not worth a journey from Laughton to London." 

" You think you can despise admiration?" 

" W r hat you mean by admiration — yes." 

" And love, too ?" said Vernon, in a whisper. 

Now Lucretia at once and abruptly raised her eyes to her partner. 
Was he aiming at her secret ? — was he hinting at intentions of his 
own ? The look chilled Vernon, and he turned away his head. 

Suddenly, then, in pursuance of a new train of ideas, Lucretig 
altered her manner to him. She had detected what before she had 
surmised. This sudden familiarity on his part arose from notions bei 
uncle had instilled — the visitor had been incited to become the suitor. 
Her penetration into character, which from childhood had been her 
passionate study, told her that on that light, polished, fearless nature, 
scorn would have slight effect — to meet the familiarity would be the 
best means to secure a friend, to disarm a wooer. She changed then 
her manner : she summoned up her extraordinary craft : she accepted 
the intimacy held out to her, not to unguard herself, but to lay open 
her opponent. It became necessary to her to know this man, to have 
such power as the knowledge might give her. Insensibly and gradually 
she led her companion away from his design of approaching her own 
secrets or character, into frank talk about himself. All unconsciously 



£0 LT7CRETIA. 

he began to lay bare to his listener the infirmities of his erring, open 
heart. Silently she looked down, and plumbed them all : the frivolity, 
the recklessness, the half gay, half mournful sense of waste and ruin. 
There, blooming amongst the wrecks, she saw the fairest flowers of 
manhood profuse and fragrant still — generosity and courage, and 
disregard for self. Spendthrift and gambler, on one side the medal ; 
gentleman and soldier on the other. Beside this maimed and imper- 
fect nature, she measured her own prepared and profound intellect, 
and as she listened, her smile became more bland and frequent. She 
could afford to be gracious ; she felt superiority, scorn, and safety. 

As this seeming intimacy had matured, Vernon and his partner had 
quitted the dance, and were conversing apart in the recess of one of 
the windows, which the newspaper readers had deserted, in the part 
of the room where Sir Miles ana Dalibard, still seated, were about to 
commence their third game of chess. The baronet's hand ceased 
from the task of arranging his pawns ; his eye was upon the pair, and 
then, after a long and complacent gaze, it looked round without 
discovering the object it sought. 

"1 am about to task your kindness most improperly, Monsieur 
Dalibard," said Sir Miles, with that politeness so displeasing to Ard- 
worth, " but will you do me the favour to move aside that fold of the 
screen. I wish for a better view of our young people. Thank you 
very much." 

Sir Miles now discovered Mainwaring, and observed that far from 
regarding with self-betraying jealousy the apparent flirtation going on 
between Lucretia and her kinsman, he was engaged in animated 
conversation with the chairman of the quarter sessions. Sir Miles 
was satisfied, and ranged his pawns. All this time, and indeed ever 
since they had sat down to play, the Provencal had been waiting with 
the patience that belonged to his character, for some observation 
from Sir Miles on the subject which, his sagacity perceived, was 
engrossing his thoughts. There had been about the old gentleman a 
fidgety restlessness, which showed that something was on his mind. 
His eyes had been frequently turned towards his niece since her 
entrance ; once or twice he had cleared his throat and hemmed, — his 
usual prelude to some_ more important communication ; and Dalibard 
had heard him muttering to himself, and fancied he caught the name 
of " Mainwaring." And indeed the baronet had been repeatedly on 
the verge of sounding his secretary, and as often had been checked 
both by pride in himself and pride for Lucretia. It seemed to him 
beneath his own dignity and hers even to hint to an inferior a fear, a 
doubt of the heiress of Laughton. Olivier Dalibard could easily 
nave led on his patron — he could easily, if he pleased it, have dropped 
words to instil suspicion and prompt question, but that was not his 
object ; he rather shunned than courted any reference to himself upon 
the matter ; for he knew that Lucretia, if she could suppose that he, 
however indirectly, had betrayed her to her uncle, would at once 
declare his own suit to her, and so procure his immediate dismissal ; 
while aware of her powers of dissimulation, and her influence over 
ber uncle, he feared that a single word from her would sufliee to 
remove all suspicion in Sir Miles, however ingeniously implanted, and 



IiCCiUTIA 41 

however truth fully Grounded. But all t'lie while, under liis apparent 
culm, liis mind was busy, and his passions burning. 

" Pshaw, your old play — the bishop again! " said Sir Miles, laughing, 
as he moved a knight to frustrate Ins adversary's supposed plan^ and 
then turning back, he once more contemplated the growing familiarity 
between Vernon and his niece. _ This time he could not contain his 
pleasure ; " Dalibard, my dear sir," he said, rubbing his hands, "look 
yonder ; they would make a handsome couple ! " 

""Who, sir?" said the Provencal, looking another way, with 
dogged stupidity. 

"Who ? damn it, man ! nay, pray forgive my ill manners — but 1 
felt gtad, sir, and proud, sir. Who ? Charley Vernon and Lucretia 
Clavering." 

"Assuredly, yes. Do you think that there is a chance of so happy 
an event ? " 

"Why, it depends only en Lucretia; I shall never force her." 
Here Sir Miles stopped, for Gabriel, unperceived before, picked up 
his patron's pocket-handkerchief. 

Olivier Dalibard' s grey eyes rested coldly on his son : " You are 
not dancing to-night, my boy. Go ; I like to see you amused." 

The boy obeyed at once, as he always did, the paternal commands. 
— He found a partner, and joined a dance just began ; and in the 
midst of the dance, Honore Gabriel Varney seemed a new being : not 
Ardworth himself so thoroughly entered into the enjoyment of the 
exercise, the lights, the music. With brilliant eyes and dilated 
nostrils, he seemed prematurely to feel all that is exciting and volup- 
tuous in that exhilaration, which to childhood is usually so innocent. 
His glances followed the fairest form ; his clasp lingered in the softest 
hand ; his voice trembled as the warm breath of his partner came on 
his cheeks. 
Meanwhile, the conversation between the chess-players continued. 
" Yes" said the baronet, " it depends only on Lucretia, — and she 
seems pleased with Vernon ; who would not be ? " 

' Your penetration rarely deceives you, sir. I own I think with 
you. Does Mr. Vernon know that you would permit the alliance ? " 

" Yes ; but " the baronet stopped short, 

" You were saying, but — but what, Sir Miles ? " 
" Why the dog affected diffidence ; he had some fear lest he shoult 
not win her affections — but luckily, at least, they are disengaged." 

Dalibard looked grave, and his eye, as if involuntarily, glanced 
towards Mainwaring. As ill luck would have it, the young man had 
then ceased his conversation with the chairman of the quarter 
sessions, and with arms folded, brow contracted, and looks, earnest, 
anxious, and intent, was contemplating the whispered conference 
between Lucretia and Vernon. 

Sir Miles's eye had followed his secretary's, and his face changed. 
His hand fell on the chess-board, and upset half the men ; he uttered 
very audible " Zounds ! " 

" I think, Sir Miles " said the Provencal, rising as if conscious tinat 
Sir Miles wished to play no more — " I think that if you spoke soon 
to Miss Clavering, as to your views with regarc to Mr. Vernon, it 



44 MOEETIA. 

might ripen matters ; for I have heard it said by .French mothers- 
ana our French women understand the female heart, sir — that a girl 
having no other affection is often prepossessed at once in favour of a 
man whom she knows beforehand is prepared to woo and to win her, 
whereas, without that knowledge, he would have seemed but an 
ordinary acquaintance." 

" It is shrewdly said, my dear Monsieur Dalibard ; and for more 
reasons than one, the sooner I speak to her the better. Lend me your 
arm, — it is time for supper, — I see the dance is over." 

Passing by the place where Mainwaring still leant, the baronet 
-ooked at him fixedly. The young man did not notice the gaze. 
Sir Miles touched him gently. He started as from a reverie. 

" You have not danced, Mr. Mainwaring." 

" I dance so seldom, Sir Miles," said Mainwaring, colouring. 

" Ah ! you employ your head more than your heels, young gentle- 
man ; very right — I must speak to you to-morrow. Well, ladies, I 
hope you have enjoyed yourselves? My dear Mrs. Vesey, you and I 
are oldfriends, you know — many a minuet we have danced together, 
eh ? We can't dance now — but we can walk arm-in-arm together still. 
Honour me. And your little grandson — vaccinated, eh ? Wonderful 
invention ! To supper, ladies — to supper ! " 

The company were gone. The lights were out, — all, save the lights 
of heaven, and they came bright and still through the casements : 
Moonbeam and Starbeam, they seemed now to have the old house to 
themselves. In came the rays, brighter, and longer, and bolder — like 
fairies that march rank upon rank, into their kingdom of solitude. 
Down the oak stairs, from the casements, blazoned with heraldry, 
moved the rays, creepingly, fearfully. On the armour in the hall 
clustered the rays boldly and brightly, till the steel shone out like a 
mirror. In the library, long and low, they just entered, stopped short 
— it ,vas no place for their play. In the drawing-room, now deserted, 
they were more curious and adventurous. Through the large window, 
still open, they came in freely and archly, as if to spy what had caused 
such disorder, — the stiff chairs out of place, — the smooth floor de- 
spoiled of its carpet, — that flower dropped on the ground, — that scarf 
forgotten on the table — the rays lingered upon them all. Up and down 
through the house, from the base to the roof, roved the children of 
the air, and found but two spirits awake amidst the slumber of the 
rest. 

In that tower to the east, — in the tapestry chamber, with the large 
gilded bed in the recess, came the rays, tamed and wan, as if scared 
by the grosser light on the table. By that table sat a girl, her brow 
leaning on one hand ; in the otker she held a rose — it is a love-token, 
exchanged with its sister rose, by stealth, in mute sign of reproach 
for doubt excited — an assurance and a reconciliation. A love-token ! 
— shrink not, ye rays — there is something akin to you in love. But, 
see, the hand closes convulsively on the flower, — it hides it not in the 
breast, — it lifts it not to the lip — it throws it passionately aside. 
"How long!" muttered the girl, impetuously — "how long! and to 
think that will here cannot shorten an hour ! " Then she rose, and 
walked to and fro, and each time she gained a certain niche in ihe 



LUCRETIA. 43 

chamber, she paused, and then irresolutely passed on again. What is 
in that niche ? Only books. "What can books teach thee, pale girl ? 
The step treads firmer; this time it halts more resolved. The hand 
that clasped the flower takes down a volume. The girl sits again 
before the light. See, oh, rays, what is the volume ? Moon and 
Starbeam, ye love what lovers read by the lamp in the loneliness. No 
love-ditty this ; no yet holier lesson to patience, and moral to hope. 
What hast thou, young girl, strong in health, and rich in years, with 
the lore of the leech, — with prognostics, and symptoms, and diseases ? 
She is tracing with hard eyes the signs that precede the grim enemy, 
in his most sudden approach — the habits that invite him, the warnings 
that lie gives. He whose wealth shall make her free, has twice had 
the visiting shock, — he starves not — he lives free ! She closes the 
volume, and, musing, metes him out the hours and days he has to live. 
Shrink back, ye rays ! The love is disenhallowed : while the hand was 
on the rose, the thought was on the charnel. 

Yonder, m the opposite tower, in the small casement near the roof, 
came the rays, — Childhood is asleep. Moon and Starbeam, ye love 
the slumbers of the child ! The door opens — a dark figure steals 
noiselessly in. The father comes to look on the sleep of his son. 
Holy tenderness, if this be all ! 

" Gabriel, wake ! " said a low stern voice, and a rough hand shook 
the sleeper. 

The sharpest test of those nerves, on which depends the mere 
annual courage, is to be roused suddenly, in the depth of night, by a 
violent hand. The impulse of Gabriel, thus startled, was neither of 
timidity nor surprise. It was that of some Spartan boy, not new to 
danger : with a slight cry, and a fierce spring, the son's hand clutched 
at the father's throat. Dalibard shook him off with an effort, and a 
smile, half in approval, half in irony, played by the moonlight over 
his lips. 

"Blood will out, young tiger," said he. " Hush, and hear me!" 

" Is it you, father ? " said Gabriel ; " I thought — I dreamed " 

"No matter; think — dream always that man should be prepared for 
iefence from peril." 

" Gabriel," and the pale scholar seated himself on the bed, "turn your 
face to mine — nearer ; let the moon fall on it ; lift your eyes — look at 
me — so ! Are you not playing false to me ? Are you not Lucretia's 
spy, while you are pretending to be mine ? It is so ; your eye betrays 
you. Now, heed me : you have a mind beyond your years. Do you 
love best the miserable garret in London, the hard fare and squalid 
dress,— or your lodgment here, the sense of luxury, the sight of 
splendour, the atmosphere of wealth ? Yon have uiie choice before 
you." 

" I choose as you would have me, then," said the boy — " the 
last." 

" I believe you. Attend ! you do not love me — that is natural, — 
you are the son of Clara Varney ! You have supposed that in loving 
Lucretia Clavering, vou might vex or thwart me, you scarce knew 
cow; and Lucretia Clavering has gold, and gifts, and soft words, and 
promises, to bribe withal. Inow tell you openly my plan with regard 



44 LUCKEIiA. 

to this giri : it is my aim to marry lier — to be master of this house and 
these lands. If I succeed, you share them with me. By betraying 
me, word or look, to Lucretia, you frustrate this aim ■ you plot against 
our rise, and to our ruin. Deem not that you could escape my fall; 
if I am driven hence — as you might drive me, — you share my fate ; 
and, mark me, you are delivered up to my revenge ! You cease to be 
my son — you are my foe. Child ! you know me." 

The boy, bold as he was, shuddered ; but, after a pause so brief that 
a breath scarce passed between his silence and his words, he replied, 
with emphasis, — 

"Father, you have read my heart. I have been persuaded by 
Lucretia (for she bewitches me) to watch you — at least, when you are 
with Sir Miles. I knew that this was mixed up with Mr. Main- 
waring. Now that you have made me understand your own views, I 
will be true to you — true without threats." 

The father looked hard on him, and seemed satisfied with the gaze. 
" Remember, at least, that your future rests upon your truth : that is 
no threat — that is a thought of hope. Now sleep or muse on it." 
He dropped the curtain which his hand had drawn aside, and stole 
from the room as noiselessly as he had entered. The boy slept no 
more. _ Deceit, and cupidity, and corrupt ambition, were at work in 
his brain. Shrink back, Moon and Starbeam ! On that child's brow 
play the demons who had followed the father's step to his bed of 
sleep. 

Back to his own room, close at hand, crept Olivier Dalibard. The 
walls were lined with books — many in language and deep in lore. 
Moon and Starbeam, ye love the midnight sontude of the scholar ! 
The Provencal stole to the casement, and looked forth. All was 
serene ; breathless trees, and gleaming sculpture, and whitened sward, 
girdled by the mass of shadow. Of what thought the man ? not of 
the present loveliness which the scene gave to his eye, nor of the 
future mysteries which the stars should whisper to the soul. Gloomily 
over a stormy and a hideous past roved the memory, stored with 
fraud and foul with crime ; plan upon plan, schemed with ruthless 
wisdom, followed up by remorseless daring, and yet all now a ruin 
and a blank ! — an intellect at war with good, and the good had con- 
quered! But the conviction neither touched the conscience; nor 
enlightened the reason ; he felt, it is true, a moody sense of impo- 
tence, but it brought rage, not despondency : it was not that he sub- 
mitted to Good, as too powerful to oppose, but that he deemed he 
aeemed he had not yet gamed ail the mastery over the arsenal of Evil 
And evil he called it not. Good and evil to him were but subordinate 
genii, at the command of Mind ; they were the slaves of the lamp. 
But had he got at the true secret of the lamp itself ? " How is it,' ; 
he thought, as he turned impatiently from the casement, " that I am 
baffled here, where my fortunes seemed most assured ? Here the 
mind has been of my own training, and prepared by nature to my 
hand ; — here all opportunity has smiled. And suddenly the merest 
commonplace, in the vulgar lives of mortals — an unlooked for rival,— 
rival, too, of the mould 1 had taught her to despise — one of the stock 
gallants of a comedy — no character, but youth and fair looks ; yea 



UJCRETIA 4S 

Jhe lover of the stage starts up, and the fabric of years is over- 
thrown." As he thus mused, he placed his hand upon a small box on 
one of the tables. " Yet, within this," resumed his soliloquy, and he 
struck the lid, that pave back a dull sound, — " within this I hold the 
keys of life and death ! Fool, the power does not reach to the heart, 
except to still it. Verily and indeed were the old heathens mistaken? 
Are there no philtres to change the current of desire ? — but touch 
one chord in a girl's affection, and all the rest is mine — all — all, lands, 
stal ion, power — all the rest are in the opening of this lid ! " 

Hide in the cloud, Moon !— shrink back, ye Stars ! send not your 
holy, pure, and trouble-lulling light to the countenance blanched and 
livid with the thoughts of murder. 



CHAPTER III. 

CONFERENCES. 

The next day Sir Miles did not appear at breakfast ; not that he 
was unwell, but that he meditated holding certain audiences, and on 
such occasions the good old gentleman liked to prepare himself. He 
belonged to a school in which, amidst much that was hearty and con- 
vivial, there was much also that, now-a-days, would seem stiff and 
formal, contrasting the other school immediately succeeding him, 
which Mr. Vernon represented, and of which the Charles Surface of 
Sheridan is a faithful and admirable type. The room that Sir Miles 
appropriated to himself was, properly speaking, the state apartment, 
called, in the old inventories, " King James's chamber;" it was on 
the first floor, communicating with the picture-gallery, which, at the 
farther end opened upon a corridor, admitting to the principal bed- 
rooms. As Sn - Miles cared nothing for holiday state, he had unscru- 
pulously taken his cubiculum in this chamber, which was really the 
handsomest in the house, except the banquet-hall ; placed his bed in 
one angle, with a huge screen before it, filled up the space with his 
Italian antiquities and curiosities, and fixed his favourite pictures on 
the faded gilt leather panelled on the walls. His main motive in this 
svas the communication with the adjoining gallery, which, when the 
weather was unfavourable, furnished ample room for his habitual 
walk. He knew how many strides by the help of his crutch made a 
mile, and this was convenient. Moreover he liked to look, when 
alone, on those old portraits of his ancestors, which he had religiously 
conserved in their places, preferring to thrust his Florentine and 
Venetian masterpieces into bedrooms and parlours rather than to 
dislodge from the gallery the stiff ruffs, doublets, and fardingales of 
his predecessors. It was whispered in the house, that the baronet, 
whenever he had to reprove a tenant, or lecture a dependant, took 
care to have him brought to his sanctum, through the full length of 
this gallery, so that the victim might be duly prepared and awed bv 



46 liUuilEILi., 

the imposing effect of so stately a journey, and the grave faces of all 
the generations of St. John, which could not fail to impress him with 
the dignity of the family, and alarm him at the prospect of the injured 
frown of its representative. Across this gallery now, following the 
steps of the powdered valet, strode young Ardworth ; staring now 
and then at some portrait more than usually grim, more often won- 
dering why his boots that never creaked before, should creak on those 
particular boards, and feeling a quiet curiosity without the least mix- 
ture of fear or awe, as to what old Square-tops intended to say to 
him. But all feeling of irreverence ceased wlien, shown into the 
baronet's room, and the door closed, Sir Miles rose with a smile, and 
cordially shaking his hand, said, dropping the punctilious courtesy of 
Mister — " Ardworth, sir, if I had a little prejudice against you, before 
you came, you have conquered it. You are a fine, manly, spirited 
fellow, sir ; and you have an old man's good wishes, which are no bad 
beginning to a young man's good fortune." 

The colour rushed over Ardworth's forehead, and a tear sprang to 
his eyes. He felt a rising at his throat, as he stammered out some 
not very audible reply. 

" I wished to see you, young gentleman, that I might judge myself 
what you would like best, and what would best fit you. Your father 
is in the army ; what say you to a pair of colours ? " 

" Oh, Sir Miles, that is my utmost ambition ! Anything but law, 
except the church; anything but the church, except a desk and a 
counter ! " 

The baronet, much pleased, gave him a gentle pat on the shoulder. 
" Ha, ha ! we gentlemen, you see (for the Ardworths are very well 
born— very), we, gentlemen, understand each other ! Between you and 
me, I never liked the law — never thought a man of birth should belong 
to it — take money for lying — shabby— shocking ! Don't let that go 
any further ! The church— Mother Church — I honour her ! Church 
and state go together ! But one ought to be very good to preach to 
others— better than you and I are— en, eh ? ha, ha ! Well, then, you 
like the army — there's a letter for you to the Horse Guards — go up to 
town— your business is done ; and, as for your outfit — read this httle 
book at your leisure." And Sir Miles thrust a pocket-book into 
Ardworth's hand. 

" But pardon me," said the young man, much bewildered. "What 
claim have I, Sir Miles, to such generosity ? I know that my uncle 
uffended you." 

" Sir, that's the claim!" said Sir Miles, gravely. "I cannot live 
long!" he added, with a touch of melancholy in his voice; "let me 
die in peace with all ! — perhaps I injured your uncle ? Who knows 
but, if so, he hears and pardons me now ?" 

" Oh, Sir Miles ! " exclaimed the thoughtless, generous-hearted 
young man, " and my Httle playfellow, Susan, your own niece ' " 

Sir Miles drew back haughtily ; but the burst that offended him 
rose so evidently from the heart, was so excusable from its motive 
and the jouth's ignorance of the world, that his frown soon vanished' 
as he said, calmly and gravely — ' 

" No man, my good sir, can allow to others the right to touch on 



UICKLTU. 47 

his family affairs ; I trust I shall be just to the poor young lady ; and 
so, if we never meet again, let us think well of each other Go, my 
boy ! serve your king and your country ! " 

" I will do my best, Sir Miles, if only to merit your kindness." 

" Stay a moment : you are intimate, I find, with young Main 
waring ? " 

" An old college friendship, Sir Miles." 

" The army will not do for him, eh ?" 

" He is too clever for it, sir." 

" Ah, he'd make a lawyer, I suppose — glib tongue enough ! and can 
talk well, — and lie, if he's paid for it ?" 

" I don't know how lawyers regard those matters, Sir Miles ; but 
if you don't make him a lawyer, I am sure you must Jeave him an 
honest man." 

" Really and truly " 

" Upon my honour I think so." 

" Good day to you, and good luck. You must catch the coach at 
the lodge ; for, I see by the papers, that, in spite of all the talk about 
Peace, they are raising regiments like wildfire." 

With very different feelings from those with which he had entered 
the room, Ardworth quitted it. He hurried into his own chamber to 
thrust his clothes into his portmanteau, and, while thus employed, 
Mainwaring entered. 

" Joy, my dear fellow ! wish me joy ! I am going to town — into 
the army — abroad — to be shot at, thank Heaven! That dear old 
gentleman !— just throw me that coat, will you?" 

A very few more words sufficed to explain what had passed to 
Mainwaring ; he sighed when his friend had finished : " I wish I were 
going with you ! " 

" Do you ? Sir Miles has only got to write another letter to the 
Horse Guards ; but no, you are meant to be something better than 
food for powder ; and, besides, your Lucretia ! Hang it, I am sorry 
a cannot stay to examine her as I had promised ; but I have seen 
enough to know that she certainly loves you. Ah, when she changed 
flowers with you, you did not think I saw you— sly, was not I? 
Pshaw ! she was only playing with Vernon ! But still, do you know, 
Will, now that Sir Miles has spoken to me so, that I could have 
sobbed — ' God bless you, my old ooy ! ' — 'pon my life, I could !— -now, 
do you know, that I feel enraged with you for abetting that girl to 
deceive him." 

" I am enraged with myself : and " Here a servant entered, 

and informed Mainwaring that he had been searching for him— Sir 
Miles requested to see him in his room. Mainwaring started like a 
culprit. " Never fear," whispered Ardworth ; " he has no suspicion 
of you, I'm sure Shake hands ; when shall we meet again ? Is it 
not odd, I, who am a Republican by theory, taking King George's pay 
to fight against the French ? No use stopping now to moralise on 
such contradictions. John — Tom, what's your name — here^ my man, 
here, throw that portmanteau on your shoulder, and come to tne lodge." 
And so, full of health, hope, vivacity, and spirit, John Walter Ardivorth 
departed on his career. 



V. 



48 LUCRETIA. 

Meanwhile, Mainwaring slowly took his way to Sir Miles. As he 
approached the gallery, he met Lucretia, who was coming from her 
own room. "Sir Miles has sent for me," he said, meaningly He 
had time for no more, for the valet was at the door of the gallery, 
waiting to usher him to his host. 

" Ha' yon will say not a -word that can betray us: guard your 
looks, too!" whispered Lucretia, hurriedly; "afterwards, join me by 
the cedars." She passed on towards the staircase, and glanced at the 
large clock that was placed there. " Past eleven ; Vernon is never 
up before twelve. I must see him before my uncle sends for me, as he 

will send if he suspects " She paused, went back to her room 

rang for her maid, dressed as for walking, and said, carelessly, If 
Sir Miles wants me, I am gone to the rectory, and shall probably 
return by the village, so that I shall be back about one." Towards 
the rectory, indeed, Lucretia bent her way ; but half-way there, turned 
back, and passing through the plantation at the rear of the house, 
awaited Mainwaring on the bench beneath the cedars. He was not 
long before he joined her. His face was sad and thoughtful; and 
when he seated himself by her side, it was with a weariness of spirit 

+ jiri-|- illTYYlPfi (1 PI* 

" Well," said she, fearfully, and she placed her hand on his. 

"Oh, Lucretia," he exclaimed, as he pressed that hand, with. an 
emotion that came from other passions than love, "we, or rather /, 
have done great wrong. I have been leading you to betray your 
uncle's trust, to convert your gratitude to him into hypocrisy. I have 
been unworthy of myself .—I am poor — I am humbly born ; but, till I 
came here, I was rich and proud in honour. I am not so now. 
Lucretia, pardon me — pardon me ! let the dream be over — we must 
not sin thus ; for it is sin, and the worst of sin— treachery. We must 
part : forget me!" 

" Forget you ! never, never, never ! " cried Lucretia, with sup- 
pressed, but most earnest vehemence — her breast heaving, her hands, 
as he dropped the one he held, clasped together, her eyes full of tears 
— transformed at once into softness, meekness, even while racked by 
passion and despair. _ * 

"Oh, William, say anything — reproach, chide, despise me, for 
mine is all the fault; say anything but that word 'part.' I have 
chosen you, 1 have sought you out, I have wooed you, if you will ; be 
it so. I cling to yon — yon are my all — all that saves me from — from 
myself" she added, falteringly, and in a hollow voice. " Your love — 
you know not what it is to me! I scarcely knew it myself before. 
I feel what it is now, when you say 'part.' " 

Agitated and tortured, Mainwaring writhed at these burning words, 
bent his face low, and covered it with his hands. 

He felt her clasp struggling to withdraw them, yielded, and saw 
her kneeling at his feet. His manhood, and his gratitude, and his 
heart, all moved by that sight in one so haughty, he opened his arms, 
and she fell on his breast. " You will never say ' part ' agair; 
William!" she gasped, convulsively. 

" But what are we to do ?" 

"Say, first, what has passed between you and my uncle." 



M7CRKTIA. 49 

" Little to relate ; for I can repeat words, not tones and looks. 
Sir Miles spoke to me, at first kindly and encouragingly, about my 
prospects, said it was time that I should fix myself, added a few words 
with menacing emphasis against what he called 'idle dreams and 
desultory ambition,' and observing that I changed countenance — for 
1 felt that I did — his manner became more cold and severe. Lucretia, 
if lie has not detected our secret ; he nice than suspects my — my pre- 
sumption. Finally, he said, drily, that [ had better return home, 
consult with my father, and that if I preferred entering into the 
service of the Government to any mercantile profession, he thought 
lie had sufficient interest to promote my views. But, clearly and dis- 
tinctly, he left on my mind one impression — that my visits here are 
over." 

"Did he allude to me — to Mr. "Vernon ?" 

" Ah, Lucretia ! do you know him so little — his delicacy, his 
pride?" 

Lucretia was silent, and Mainwaring continued : — 

" I felt that I was dismissed ; I took my leave of your uncle ; I 
came hither with the intention to say farewell for ever." 

" Hush, hush ! that thought is over ! And you return to your 
father's ; perhaps better so; it is but hope deferred: and, in your 
absence, I can the more easily allay all suspicion, if suspicion exist ; 
but I must write to you; we must correspond. William, deal 
William, write often — write kindly; tell me, in every letter, that you 
love me — that you love only me — that you will be patient, and 
confide." 

"Dear Lucretia," said Mainwaring, tenderly, and moved by the 
pathos of her earnest and imploring voice : " but you forget ; the bag 
)s always brought first to Sir Miles ; he will recognise my hand ; and 
to whom can you trust your own letters ?" 

"True," replied Lucretia, despondingly • and there was a pause: 
suddenly she lifted her head, and cried, " but your father's house is 
not far from this — not ten miles — we can find a spot at the remote 
end of the park, near the path through the great wood ; there I can 
leave my letters ; there I can find yours." 

"But it must bo seldom. If any of Sir Miles's servants see me, 
if " 

" Oh, William, William, this is not the language of love !" 

"Forgive me — I think of you ! " 

" Love thinks of nothing but itself ; it is tyrannical, absorbing — it 
forgets even the object loved ; it feeds on danger — it strengthens by 
obstacles," said Lucretia, tossing her hair from her forehead, and with 
an expression of dark and wild power on her brow and in her eyes : 
"fear not for me, I am sufficient guard upon myself; even while 1 
speak, I think ; yes, I have thought of the very spot. You remember 
that hollow oak at the bottom of the dell, in which Guy St. John, the 
cavalier, is said to have hid himself from Fairfax's soldiers Every 
Monday I will leave a letter in that hollow ; every Tuesday you can 
search for it, and leave your own. This is but once a week ; there is 
no risk here." 

Muhttaring's conscience still smote him; but he had not tin; 



60 LTTCKETIA 

Etrength to resist the energy of Lucretia. Tlie force of ner character 
seized upon the weak part of his own— its gentleness, its fear of in- 
flicting pain, its reluctance to say "no " — that simple cause of misery 
to the over timid. A few sentences more, full of courage, confidence, 
and passion, on the part of the woman, of constraint, and yet of 
soothed and grateful affection on that of the man, and the affianced 
parted. 

Mainwaring had already given orders to have his trunks sent to 
him at his father's ; and, a hardy pedestrian by habit, he now struck 
across the park, passed the dell and the hollow tree, commonly called 
" Guy's Oak," and across woodland and fields golden with ripening 
corn, took his way to the town, in the centre of which, square, solid, 
and imposing, stood the respectable residence of his bustling, active, 
electioneering father. 

Lucretia's eye followed a form, as fair as ever captivated maiden's 
glance, till it was out of sight ; and then, as she emerged from the 
shade of the cedars into the more open space of the garden, her usual 
thoughtful composure was restored to her steadfast countenance. 
On the terrace, she caught sight of Vernon, who had just quitted his 
own room, where he always breakfasted alone, and who was now 
languidly stretched on a bench, and basking in the sun. Like all who 
have abused life, Vernon was not the same man in the early part of 
the day. The spirits that rose to temperate heat the third hour after 
noon, and expanded into glow when the lights shone over gay 
carousers, at morning were flat and exhausted. With hollow eyes, 
and that weary fall of the muscles of the cheeks, which betrays the 
votary of Bacchus, the convivial three-bottle man — Charley Vernon 
forced a smile, meant to be airy and impertinent, to his pale lips, as 
he rose with effort, and extended three fingers to his cousm. 

" Where have you been hiding ? catching bloom from the roses ? — 
you have the prettiest shade of colour — just enough — not a hue too 
much. And there is Sir Miles's valet gone to the rectory, and the fat 
footman puffing away towards the village, and I, like a faithful 
warden, from my post at the castle, all looking out for the truant." 

"But who wantb me, cousin?" said Lucretia, with the full blaze of 
her rare and captivating smile. 

"The knight of Laughton confessedly wants thee, damsel ! — the 
knight of the Bleeding Heart may want thee more — dare he own it?" 

And with a hand that trembled a little, not with love — at least it 
trembled always a little before the Madeira at luncheon — lie lifted 
hers to his lips. 

" Compliments again, words — idle words ! " said Lucretia, looking 
down bashfully. 

" How can I convince thee of my sincerity, unless tnou takest my 
life as its pledge, maid of Laughton ? " 

And very much tired of standing, Charley Vernon drew her gently 
to the bench, and seated himself by her side. Lucretia's eyes were 
still downcast, and she remained silent ; Vernon, suppressing a yawn, 
felt that he was bound to continue. There was nothing very formi- 
dable in Lucretia's manner. 

" Fore Gad ! " thought he, " I suppose 1 must take the heiress 



MJCRS'-TTA. dl 

after all ; the sooner 'tis over, the sooner 1 can get back to Brook 
Street." 

" It is premature, my fair cousin," said he aloud — " premature, 
after less than a week's visit, and only some fourteen or fifteen hours 
permitted friendship and intimacy, to say what is uppermost in my 
thoughts, but we spendthrifts are slow at nothing, not even at 
wooing. By sweet Venus, then, fair cousin, you look provokingly 
handsome ! Sir Miles, your good uncle, is pleased to forgive all my 
follies and faults, upon one condition, that you will take on yourself 
the easy task to reform me. Will you, my fair cousin ? Such as J 
am, you behold me ' I am no sinner in the disguise of a saint ! My 
fortune is spent — my health is not strong ; but a young widow's is no 
mournful position. I am gay when I am well ; good-tempered when 
ailing. I never betrayed a trust — can you trust me with yourself? " 

This was a long speech, and Charley Yernon felt pleased that it 
was over There was much in it that would have touched a heart 
even closed to him, and a little genuine emotion had given light to 
his eyes and colour to his cheek. Amidst all the ravages of dissipa- 
tion, there was something interesting in his countenanoe, and manly 
in his tone and his gesture. But Lucretia was only sensible to one 
part of his confession — her uncle had consented to his suit. This was 
all of which she desired to be assured, and against this she now sought 
to screen herself. 

" Your candour, Mr. Vernon," she said, avoiding his eye, "deserves 
candour in me. I cannot affect to misunderstand you ; — but you take 
me by surprise — I was so unprepared for this. Give me time — I must 
reflect." 

"Reflection is dull work in the country; you can reflect more 
amusingly in town, my fair cousin." 

" I will wait, then, till I find myself in town." 

" Ah, you make me the happiest, the most grateful of men," cried 
Mr. Vernon, rising with a semi-genuflexion, which seemed to impiy, 
"Consider yourself knelt to," just as a courteous assailer, with a 
motion of the hand, implies, " Consider yourself horsewhipped." 

Lucretia, who, with all her intellect, had no capacity for humour, 
recoiled and looked up in positive surprise. 

" I do not understand you, Mr. Vernon," she said, with austere 
gravity. 

" Allow me the bliss of flattering myself that you, at least, are 
understood," replied Charley Vernon, with imperturbable assurance. 
" You will wait to reflect till you are in town — that is to say, the day 
after our honeymoon, when you awake in May Fair." 

Before Lucretia could reply, she saw the indefatigable valet for- 
mally approaching, with the anticipated message that Sir Miles 
requested to see her. She replied hurriedly to this last, that she 
would be with her uncle immediately, and when he had again dis- 
appeared within the porch, she said, with a constrained effort at 
frankness — 

" Mr. Vernon, if I have misunderstood your words, I Ihink I do 
not mistake your character. You cannot wish to take advantage of 
my affection for my uncle, and the passive obedience 1 owe to him, to 



Wi LL'CBETIA. 

force me into a step — of which — of which- -1 have not, yet sufficiently 
considered the results. If you really desire that my feelings should 
be consulted, that I should not — pardon me — consider myself sacri- 
ficed to the family pride of my guardian and the interests of my 
suitor " 

" Madam ! " exclaimed Vernon, reddening. 

Pleased with the irritating effect her words had produced, Lucretia 
continued calmly, " If, in a word, I am to be a free agent in a choice 
on which my happiness depends, forbear to urge Sir Miles further at 
jjresent — forbear to press your suit upon me. Give me the delay of a 
tew months ; I shall know how to appreciate your delicacy." 

" Miss Clavering," answered Vernon, with a touch of the St. John 
haughtiness, " I am in despair that you should even think so grave an 
appeal to my honour necessary. I am well aware of your expecta- 
tions and my poverty. And, believe me, I would rather rot in a 
prison than enrich myself by forcing your inclinations. You have 
but to say the word, and I will (as becomes me as man and gentle- 
man) screen you from all chance of Sir Miles's displeasure, by taking 
it on myself to decline an honour of which I feel, indeed, very 
undeserving." 

" But I have offended you," said Lucretia, softly, while she turned 
aside to conceal the glad light of her eyes, — " pardon me ; and, to 
prove that you do so, give me your arm to my uncle's room." 

_ Vernon, with rather more of Sir Miles's antiquated stiffness than 
his own rakish ease, offered his arm, with a profound reverence, to 
his cousin, and they _ took their way to the house. Not till they 
had passed up the stairs, and were even in the gallery, did further 
words pass between them. Then Vernon said — 

" But what is your wish, Miss Clavering ? On what footing shall 
I remain here ? " 

" Will you suffer me to dictate ? " replied Lucretia, stopping short 
with well-feigned confusion, as if suddenly aware that the right to 
dictate gives the right to hope. 

Ah, consider me at least as your slave ! " whispered Vernon, as 
his eye, resting on the contour of that matchless neck, partially and 
advantageously turned from him, he began, with his constitutional 
admiration of the sex, to feel interested in a pursuit, that now seemed, 
after piquing, to natter, his self-love. 

" Then T will use the privilege when we meet again," answered 
Lucretia ; and drawing her arm gently from his, she passed on to her 
uncle, leaving Vernon midway in the gallery. 

Those faded portraits looked down on her with that melancholy 
gloom which the effigies of our dead ancestors seem mysteriously to 
acquire. To noble and aspiring spirits, no homily to truth, and 
honour, and fair ambition is more eloquent, than the mute and melan- 
choly canvass, from which our fathers, made, by death, our house- 
hold gods, contemplate us still. They appear to confide to us the 
charge of their unblemished names. They speak to us from the 
grave, and, heard aright, the pride of family is the guardian angel of 
its heirs. But Lucretia, with her hard and scholastic mind, despised 
as the veriest weakness all the poetry that belongs to the sense of a 



pure descent. It was because she was proud as the proudest in her- 
self, that she had nothing but contempt for the virtue, the valour, or 
the wisdom of those that had gone before. So with a brain busy with 
guile and stratagem, she trod on, beneath the eyes of the simple and 
spotless Dead. 

Vernon, thus left alone, mused a few moments on what had passed 
between himself and the heiress, and then slowly retracing his steps, 
his eye roved along the stately series of his line. "Faith ! " he mut- 
tered, " if my boyhood had been passed in this old gallery, his Royal 
Highness would have lost a good fellow and hard drinker • and his 
Majesty would have had, perhaps, a more distinguished soldier — cer- 
tainly, a worthier subject. If 1 marry this lady, and we are blessed 
with a son, he shall walk through this gallery once a day before he is 
flogged into Latin ! " 

Lucretia's interview with her uncle was a masterpiece of art. What 
pity that such craft and subtlety were wasted in our little day, and on 
such petty objects ; under the Medici, that spirit had gone far to the 
shaping of history. Sure, from her uncle's openness, that he would 
plunge at once into the subject for which she deemed die was sum- 
moned, she evinced no repugnance, when, tenderly kissing her, he 
asked, " If Charles Vernon had a chance of winning favour in her 
eyes ? " She knew that she was safe in saying " No ; " that her uncle 
would never force her inclinations ; — safe so far as Vernon was con- 
cerned ; but she desired more ; she desired thoroughly to quench all 
suspicion that her heart was pre-occupied ; entirely to remove from 
Sir Miles's thoughts the image of Mainwaring ; and a denial of one 
suitor might quicken the baronet's eyes to the concealment of the 
other. Nor was this all : if Sir Miles was seriously bent upon seeing 
her settled in marriage before his death, the dismissal of Vernon might 
only expose her to the importunity of new candidates, more difficult 
to deal with. Vernon himself she could use as the shield against the 
arrows of a host. Therefore, when Sir Miles repeated his question, 
she answered with much gentleness and seeming modest sense, that 
" Mr. Vernon had much that must prepossess in his favour ; that in 
addition to his own advantages he had one, the highest in her eyes, 
her uncle's sanction and approval. But," and she _ hesitated with 
becoming and natural diffidence, " were not his habits unfixed and 
roving ? So it was said ; she knew not herself— she would trust her 
happiness to her uncle. But if so, and if Mr. Vernon were really dis- 
posed to change, would it not be prudent to try him — try him where 
there was temptation, — not in the repose of Laughton, but amidst his 
own haunts of London ? Sir Miles nad friends who would honestly 
inform him of the result. She did but suggest this : she was too 
ready to leave all to her dear guardian's acuteness and experience.'' 

Melted by her docility, and in high approval of the prudence which 
betokened a more rational judgment than he himself had evinced, the 
good old man clasped her to his breast, and shed tears as he praised 
and thanked her — she had decided, as she always did, for the best, — 
Heaven forbid that she should be wasted on an incorrigible man of 
pleasure ! "And," said the frank^hearted gentleman, unable long to 
keep any thought concealed, — " and to think that I could have wronged 



54 LUCRETIA. 

you for a moment, my own noble child ! — thai 1 could have been dolt 
enough to suppose that the good looks of that boy Mainwaring might 
aave caused you to forget what — but you change colour ! "—for with 
all her dissimulation, Lucretia loved too ardently not to shrink at that 
name thus suddenly pronounced. "Oh," continued the baronet, 
drawing her still nearer towards him, while with one hand he put 
back her face, that he might read its expression the more closely — 
" oh, if it had been so— if it be so, I will pity, not blame you, for my 
neglect was the fault ; pity you, for I have known a similar straggle ; 
admire you in pity, for you have the spirit of your ancestors, and you 
will conquer the weakness. Speak ! have I touched on the truth ? 
Speak without fear, child ! — you have no mother ; but in age a man 
sometimes gets a mother's heart." 

Startled and alarmed as the lark when the step nears its nest, 
Lucretia summoned all the dark wile of her nature to mislead the 
intruder. " No, uncle, no ; I am not so unworthy. You misconceived 
my emotion." 

" An, you know that he has had the presumption to love you — the 
puppy ! and you feel the compassion you women always feel for such 
offenders ? Is that it ? " 

Rapidly Lucretia considered if it would be wise to leave that impres- 
sion on his mind ; on one hand, it might account for a moment's agi- 
tation ; and if Mainwaring were detected hovering near the domain, 
in the exchange of their correspondence, it might appear but the idle, 
if hopeless, romance of youth, which haunts the mere home of its 
object — but, no ; on the other hand, it left his banishment absolute 
and confirmed. Her resolution was taken with a promptitude that 
made her pause not perceptible. 

" No, my dear uncle," she said, so cheerfully, that it removed all 
doubt from the mind of her listener ; " but Monsieur Dahbard has 
rallied me on the subject, and I was so angry with him, that when you 
touched on it I thought more of my quarrel with him than of poor 
timid Mr. Mainwaring himself. Come now, own it, dear sir ! Monsieur 
Dalibard has instilled this strange fancy into your head ? " 

" No, 'Slife : if he had taken such a liberty, I should have lost my 
librarian. No, I assure you, it was rather Vernon : you know true love 
is jealous." 

" Vernon ! " thought Lucretia : " he must _ go, and at once." 
Sliding from her uncle's arms to the stool at his feet, she then led 
the conversation more familiarly back into the channel it had lost; 
and when, at last, she escaped, it was with the understanding that, 
without promise or compromise, Mr. Vernon should return to London 
at once, and be put upon the ordeal, through which she felt assured 
it was little likely lie should pass with success. 



LUCRKTIA. 65 



CHM>T£It IV. 
guy's oak. 

Three weeks afterwards, the life at Laugliton seemed restored tc 
the cheerful and somewhat monotonous tranquillity of its course, 
before chafed and disturbed by the recent interruptions to the stream. 
Yernon had departed satisfied with the justice of the trial imposed 
on him, and far too high-spirited to seek to extort from niece or uncle 
any engagement beyond that which, to a nice sense of honour, the 
trial itself imposed. His memory and his heart were still faithful to 
Mary ; but his senses, his fancy, his vanity, were a little involved in 
his success with the heiress. Though so free from all mercenary 
meanness, Mr. Vernon was still enough man of the world to be sen- 
sible of the advantages of the alliance which had first been pressed on 
Mm by Sir Miles; and from which Lucretia herself appeared not to 
be averse. The season of London was over, but there was always a 
set, and that set the one in which Charley Vernon principally moved, 
who found town fuller than the country. Besides, he went occa- 
sionally to Brighton, which was then to England what Baise was to 
Borne. The Prince was holding gay court at the Pavilion, and that 
was the atmosphere which Vernon was habituated to breathe. He 
was no parasite of royalty : he had that strong personal affection t<? 
the Prince which it is often the good fortune ot royalty to attract, 
Nothing is less founded than the complaint which poets put into the 
lips of princes, that they have no friends ; it is, at least, their own 
perverse fault if that be the case — a little amiability, a little of frank 
kindness goes so far when it emanates from the rays of a crown ! 
But Vernon was stronger than Lucretia deemed him — once contem- 
plating the prospect of a union which was to consign to his charge the 
happiness of another, and feeling all that he should owe in such a 
marriage to the confidence both of niece and uncle, he evinced steadier 
nrinciples than he had ever made manifest, when he had only his own 
fortune to mar, and his own happiness to trifle with. He joined his 
old companions ; but he kept aloof from their more dissipated pur- 
suits. Beyond what was then thought the venial error of too devout 
libations to Bacchus, Charley Vernon seemed reformed. 

Ardworth had joined a regiment which had departed for the field ol 
action. Mamwaring was still with his father, and had not yet 
announced to Sir Miles any wish or project for the future. 

Olivier Dalibard, as before, passed his mornings alone in his cham- 
ber — his noon and his evenings with Sir Miles. He avoided all private 
conferences with Lucretia. She did not provoke them. Young 
Gabriel amused himself in copying Sir Miles's pictures, sketching 
from Nature, scribbling in his room, prose or verse, no matter which 
fbe never showed his lucubrations), nincliing the dogs when he could 



68 LTICBF.tlA. 

catch them alone, shooting the cats, if they appeared in the planta- 
tion, on pretence of love for the young pheasants, sauntering into the 
cottages, where he was a favourite, because of his good looks, but 
where he always contrived to leave the trace of his visits in disorder 
and mischief, upsetting the tea-kettle and scalding the children, or, 
what he loved dearly, setting two gossips by the ears. But these 
occupations were over by the hour Lucretia left her apartment. From 
that time he never left her out of view ; and, when encouraged to 
join her at his usual privileged times, whether in the gardens at 
sunset, or in her evening niche in the drawing-room, he was sleek, 
silken, and caressing as Cupid, after plaguing the Nymphs, at tlie 
feet of Psyche. These two strange persons had indeed apparently 
that sort of sentimental familiarity which is sometimes seen between 
a fair boy and a girl much older than himself; but the attraction that 
drew them together was an indefinable instinct of then- similarity in 
many traits of their several characters, — the whelp leopard sported 
fearlessly round the she-panther. Before Olivier's midnight con- 
ference with his son, Gabriel had drawn CiOse and closer to Lucretia, 
as an ally against his father; for that father he cherished feelings 
which, beneath the most docile obedience, concealed horror and hate, 
and someting of the ferocity of revenge. And if young Varney loved 
any one on earth except himself, it was Lucretia Clavering. She 
had administered to his ruling passions, which were for effect and 
display ; she had devised the dress which set off to the utmost his 
exterior,_ and gave it that picturesque and artistic appearance which 
he had sighed for in his study of the portraits of Titian and Vandyke. 
She supplied him (for in money she was generous) with enough to 
gratify and forestal every boyish caprice, and this liberality now 
turned against her, for it had increased into a settled vice his natural 
taste for extravagance, and made all other considerations subordinate 
to that of feeding his cupidity. She praised his drawings, which, 
though self-taught, were indeed extraordinary, predicted his fame as 
an artist, lifted him into consequence amongst the guests by her 
notice and eulogies; and what, perhaps, won him more than all, he 
felt that it was to her — to Dalibard's desire to conceal before her his 
more cruel propensities — that he owed his father's change from the 
most refined severity to the most paternal gentleness. 

And thus he had repaid her, as she expected, by a devotion whicn 
shetrusted to employ against her tutor himself, should the baffled 
aspirant become the scheming rival and the secret foe. But now, 
thoroughly aware of the gravity of his father's objects, seeing before 
him the_ chance of a settled establishment at Laughton, a positive and 
influential connection with Lucretia ; and on the other hand, a return 
to the poverty he recalled with disgust, and the terrors of his father's 
solitary maiice and revenge, he entered fully into Dalibard's sombre 
plans, and without scruple or remorse, would have abetted any harm 
to his benefactress. Thus craft doomed to have accomplices in craft, 
resembles the spider whose web, spread indeed for the fly, attracts 
the fellow-spider that shall thrust it forth, and profit by the meshes 
it has woven for a victim, to surrender to a master. 

Alre-ady young Varney, set quietly and ceaselessly to spy p/vc-y 



liCCHETIA. 1/ 

movement of Lucrctia's, had reported to his father two visits to the 
most retired part of the part ; but he had not yet ventured near 
enough to discover the exact spot, and his very watch on Lucretia 
had prevented the detection of Mainwaring himself in his stealthy 
exchange of correspondence. Dalibard bade him continue his watch, 
without hinting at his ulterior intentions, for indeed, in these he was 
not decided. Even should he discover any communication between 
Lucretia and Mainwaring, how reveal it to Sir Miles without for 
?ver precluding himself from the chance of profiting by the betrayal ? 
Could Lucretia. ever forgive the injury, and could she fail to detect 
•he hand that inflicted it ? His only hope was in the removal of 
Mainwaring from his path by other agencies than his own, and (by 
an appearance of generosity and self-abandonment, in keeping her 
secret, and submitting to his fate) he trusted to regain the confidence 
she now withheld from him, and use it to his advantage when the 
time came to defend himself from Vernon. Eor he had learned from 
Sir Miles the passive understanding with respect to that candidate 
for her hand ; and he felt assured that had Mainwaring never existed, 
could he cease to exist for her hopes, Lucretia, despite her dissimu- 
lation, would succumb to one she feared but respected, rather than to 
one she evidently trifled with and despised. 

" But the course to be taken must be adopted after the evidence is 
collected," thought the subtle schemer, and he tranquilly continued 
his chess with the baronet. 

Before, however, Gabriel could make any further discoveries, an 
event occurred which excited very different emotions amongst those it 
more immediately interested. 

Sir Miles had, during the last twelvemonths, been visited by two 
seizures, seemingly of an apoplectic character. Whether they were 
apoplexy or the less alarming attacks that arise from some more gen- 
tle congestion, occasioned by free living and indolent habits, was 
matter of doubt with his physician — not a very skilful, though a very 
formal man. Country doctors were not then the same able, educated, 
and scientific class that they are now rapidly becoming. Sir Miles 
himself so stoutly and so eagerly repudiated the least hint of the more 
unfavourable interpretation, that the doctor, if not convinced by his 
patient, was awed from expressing plainly a contrary opinion. There 
are certain persons who will dismiss their physician if he tells them 
the truth : Sir Miles was one of them. 

In his character there was a weakness not uncommon to the proud. 
He did not fear death, but he shrank from the thought that others 
should calculate on his dying. He was fond of his power, though he 
exercised it gently : he knew that the power of wealth and station is 
enfeebled in proportion as its dependents can foresee the date of its 
transfer. He dreaded, too, the comments which are always made on 
those visited by his peculiar disease : " Poor Sir Miles ! an apoplectic 
fit ! his intellect must be very much, shaken— he revoked at whist last 
night — memory sadly impaired ! " This may be a pitiable foible ; but 
heroes and statesmen have had it most : pardon it in the proud old 
man. He enjoined the phvsician to state throughout the house and 
tie neighbourhood, that the attacks were wholly innocent and unim 



53 » »'<;retia. 

portant. The physician did so, and was generally believed ; for Sir 
Miles seemed as lively and as vigorous after them a$ before. Two 
persons alone were not deceived — Dalibard and Lucretia. The first, 
at an earlier part of his life, had studied pathology with the profound 
research and ingenious application which he brought to bear upon all 
he undertook. He whispered from the first to Lucretia — 

" Unless your uncle changes his habits, takes exercise, and forbears 
wine and the table, his days are numbered." 

And when this intelligence was first conveyed to her, before she had 
become acquainted with Mainwaring, Lucretia felt the shock of a 
grief sudden and sincere. We have seen how these better sentiments 
changed as human life became an obstacle in her way. In her charac- 
ter, what phrenologists call " destructiveness," in the comprehensive 
sense of the word, was superlatively developed. She had not actual 
cruelty ; she was not blood-thirsty : those vices belong to a different 
cast of character. She was rather deliberately and intellectually 
unsparing — a goal was before her ; she must march to it ; all in the 
way were but hostile impediments. At first, however^ Sir Miles was 
not in the way, except to fortune, and for that, as avarice was net her 
leading vice, she could not well wait ; therefore, at this hint of the 
Provencal's, she ventured to urge her uncle to abstinence and exer- 
cise, but Sir Miles was touchy on the subject; he feared the interpre- 
tations which great change of habits might suggest, the memory of 
the fearful warning died away, and he felt as well as before, for, save 
an old rheumatic gout (which had long since left him, with no other 
apparent evil but a, lameness in the joints, that rendered exercise 
unwelcome and painful), he possessed one of those comfortable, and 
often treacherous constitutions, which evince no displeasure at irregu- 
larities, and bear all liberties with philosophical composure. Accord- 
ingly he would have his own way ; aud he contrived to coax or to 
force his doctor into an authority on his side : wine was necessary to 
his constitution ; much exercise was a dangerous fatigue. The second 
attack, following four months after the first, was less alarming, aud 
Sir Miles fancied it concealed even from his niece ; but three nights 
after his recovery, the old baronet sat musing alone for some time in 
his own room, before he retired to rest. _ Then he rose, opened his 
desk, and read his 'will attentively, locked it up with a slight sigh, and 
took down his Bible. The next morning he despatched the letters 
which summoned Ardworth and Vernon to his house ; and, as he quitted 
Jiis room, his look lingered with melancholy fondness upon the por- 
traits in the gallery. No one was by the old man to interpret these 
slight signs, in which lay a world of meaning. 

A few weeks after Vernon had left the house, and in the midst of tne 
restored tranquillity we have described, it so happened that Sir Miles' s 
physician, after dining at the hall, had been summoned to attend one 
of the children at the neighbouring rectory, and there he spent the 
night. A little before daybreak his slumbers were disturbed ; he was 
recalled in all haste to Laughton Hall. For the third time, he found 
Sir Miles speechless. Dalibard was by his bedside. Lucretia had 
not been made aware of the seizure ; for Sir Miles had previously told 
lis valet (who of late slept in the same room) never to alarm Miss 



LfTCUETlA. £',) 

Ciavering if he was taken ill. The doctor was about to apply his 
usual remedies : but when he drew forth his lancet, Dalibard. placed 
his hand on the physician's arm — 

" Not this time," he said slowly, and with emphasis; "it will be 
his death." 

" Pooh, sir !" said the doctor, disdainfully. 

" Do so, then ! bleed him, and take the responsibility. I have 
studied medicine — I know these symptoms. In this case the apoplexy 
may spare — the lancet kills." 

The physician drew back dismayed and doubtful. 

'"'What would you do, then ? " 

"Wait three minutes longer the effect of the cataplasms I have 
applied. If they fail " 

"Ay, then?" 

" A chill bath, and vigorous friction." 

" Sir, I will never permit it." 

" Then murder your patient your own way." 

All this while Sir Miles lay senseless, his eyes wide open, his teeth 
locked. The doctor drew near, looked at the lancet, and said irre- 
solutely — 

" Your practice is new to me ; but if you have studied medicine, 
that's another matter. Will you guarantee the success of your 
plan?" 

"Yes." 

"Mind, I wash my hands of it ; I take Mr. Jones to witness :" and 
he appealed to the valet. 

" Call up the footmen and lift your master," said Dalibard ; and 
'she doctor, glancing round, saw that a bath, filled some seven or 
eight inches deep with water, stood already prepared in the room. 
Perplexed and irresolute, he offered no obstacle to Dalibard' s move- 
ments. The body, seemingly lifeless, was placed in the bath ; and 
the servants, under Dalibard's directions, applied vigorous and inces- 
sant friction. Several minutes elapsed before any favourable symp- 
tom took place ; at length Sir Mdes heaved a deep sigh, and the 
eves moved — a minute or two more, and the teeth chattered ; the 
blood, set in motion, appeared on the surface of the skin : life ebbed 
back • the danger was past ; the dark foe driven from the citadel. 
Sir Miles spoke audibly, though incoherently, as he was taken back 
to his bed, warmly covered up, the lights removed, noise forbidden, 
and Dalibard and the doctor remained in silence by the bedside. 

" Rich man," thought Dalibard, " thine hour is not yet come : 
thy wealth must not pass to the boy Mainwaring." 

Sir Milcs's recovery, under the care of Dalibard, who now had his 
own way, was as rapid and complete as before. Lucretia, when she 
heard, the next morning, of the attack, felt, we dare not say, a guilty 
ioy, but a terrible and feverish agitation. Sir Miles himself, informed 
by his valet of Dalibard's wrestle with the doctor, felt' a profound 
gratitude and reverent wonder for the simple means to which lie 
probably owed his restoration ; and he listened, with a docility which 
Dalibard was not prepared to expect, to his learned secretary's urgent 
admonitions as to the life lie must lead, if he desired to live at all. 



60 LVl rtrjTIA. 

Convinced, at last, that wine and good cheer had not blockaded out 
the enemy, and having to do, in Olivier Dalibard, with a very different 
temper from the doctor's, he assented with a tolerable grace to the 
trial of a strict regimen and to daily exercise in the open air. Dali- 
bard now became constantly with him — the increase of his influence 
was as natural as it was apparent. Lucretia trembled ; she divined 
a danger in his power, now separate from her own, and which 
threatened to be independent of it. She became abstracted and 
uneasy — jealousy of the Provencal possessed her. She began to 
meditate schemes for his downfal. At this time, Sir Miles received 
the following letter from Mr. Pielden : — 

"Southampton, August 20th, 1801. 

" Dear Sir Miles, — You will remember that I informed you when 
I arrived at Southampton, with my dear young charge ; and Susan 
has twice written to her sister, implying the request which she lacked 
the courage, seeing that she is timid, expressly to urge, that Miss 
Clavering might again be permitted to visit her. Miss Clavering 
has answered, as might be expected from the propinquity of the 
relationship ; but she has perhaps the same fears of offending you 
that actuate her sister. But now, since the worthy clergyman, who 
had undertaken my parochial duties, has found the air insalubrious, 
and prays me not to enforce the engagement by which we had 
exchanged our several charges for the space of a calendar year, I am 
reluctantly compelled to return home — my dear wife, thank Heaven, 
being already restored to health, which is an unspeakable mercy; 
and I am sure I cannot be sufficiently grateful to Providence which 
has not only provided me with a liberal independence of more than two 
hundred pounds a-year, but the best of wives and the most dutiful 
of children — possessions that I venture to call ' the riches of the 
heart.' Now, I pray you, my dear Sir Miles, to gratify these two 
deserving young persons, and to suffer Miss Lucretia incontinently 
to visit her sister. Counting on your consent, thus boldly demanded, 
I have already prepared an apartment for Miss Clavering ; and 
Susan is busy in what, though I do not know much of such feminine 
matters, the whole house declares to be a most beautiful and fanciful 
toilet-cover, with roses and forget-me-nots cut_ out of muslin, and 
two large silk tassels, which cost her three shillings and fourpence. 
1 cannot conclude, without thanking you from my heart for your 
noble kindness to young Ardworth. He is so full of ardour and 
.spirit, that I remember, poor lad, when I left him, as I thought, hard 
at work on that well-known problem of Euclid, vulgarly called the 
Asses' Bridge — I found him describing a figure of 8 on the village 
pond, which was only just frozen over ! Poor lad ! Heaven will take 
care of him, I know, as it does of all who take no care of themselves. 
Ah, Sir Miles, if you could but see Susan— such a nurse, too, in illness ! 
" I have the honour to be, 
Sir Miles, 
" Your most humble, poor servant, to command, 

" Matthew Fisldx.n." 



LUCKETIA. <51 

Sir Miles put this letter in his niece's hand, and said, Kuully, " Why 
not have gone to see your sister before ? — I should not have beea 
angry. Go, my child, as soon as you like : to-morrow is Sunday — 
no travelling that day— but the next, the carriage shall be at jour 
order." 

Lucretia hesitated a moment. To leave Dalibard in sole possession 
of the field, even for a few days, was a thought of alarm • bat what 
evil could he do in that time '( And her pulse beat quickly !— Main- 
waring could come to Southampton! — she should see him again. 
after more than six weeks' absence ! She had so much to relate and 
to hear — she fancied his last letter had been colder and snorter — she 
reamed to hear liim say with his own lips, that " he loved her still ! " 
This idea banished or prevailed over all others. She thanked her 
uncle cheerfully and gaily, and the journey was settled. 

" Be at watch early on Monday," said Olivier to his son. 

Monday came— the baronet had ordered the carriage to be at the 
door at ten. A little before eight, Lucretia stole out, and took her 
way to Guy's Oak. Gabriel had placed himself in readiness ; he had 
climbed a tree at the bottom ot the park (near the place where 
hitherto he had lost sight of her) ; she passed under it, — on through 
a dark grove of pollard oaks. When she was at a sufficient distance, 
the boy dropped from his perch ; with the stealth of an Indian, he 
crept on her trace, following from tree to tree, always sheltered, 
always watchful ; he saw her pause at the dell, and look round — she 
descended into the hollow ; he slunk through the fern — he gained 
the marge of the dell, and looked down — she was lost to his sight. 
At length, to his surprise, he saw the gleam of her robe emerge 
from the hollow of a tree — her head stooped as she came through the 
aperture ; he had time to shrink back amongst the fern ; she passed 
on hurriedly, the same way she had taken, back to the house ; then 
into the dell crept the boy. Guy's Oak, vast and venerable, with 
gnarled green bows below, and sere branches above, that told that its 
day of fall was decreed at last — rose high from the abyss of the hol- 
low — high and far-seen amidst the trees that stood on the vantage- 
ground above — even as a great name soars the loftier when it springs 
from the grave. A dark and irregular fissure gave entrance to the 
heart of the oak — the boy glided in and looked round — he saw nothing 
— yet something there must be. The rays of the early sun did not 
penetrate into the hollow, it was as dim as a cave. He felt slowly in 
every crevice, and a startled moth or two flew out. It was not for 
moths that the girl had come to Guy's Oak ! He drew back, at last, 
in despair ; as he did so, he heard a low sound close at hand, a low, 
murmuring, angry sound, like a hiss ; he looked round, and through 
the dark, two burning eyes fixed his own — he had startled a snake 
from its bed. He drew out in time, as the reptile sprang ; but now 
his t;;sk, search, and object, were forgotten. With the versatility of 
a child, his thoughts were all on the enemy he had provoked. That 
zest of prey which is inherent in man's breast, which makes him love 
the sport and the chase, and maddens boyhood and age with the pas- 
sion for slaughter, leapt up within him • anything of danger, and 
contest, and excitement, gave Gabriel Varney a strange fever of 



C'2 MjCKetia. 

pleasure. He sprang up the sides of the dell, climbed the park-paks 
on which it bordered, was in the wood where the young shoots rose 
green and strong from the underwood ; — to cut a staff for the strife, 
to descend again into the dell, creep again through the fissure, look 
round for those vengeful eyes, was quick done as the joyous play; of 
the impulse. The poor snake had slid down in content and fancied 
security ; its young, perhaps, were not far off ; its wrath had been the 
instinct Nature gives to the mother. It hath done thee no harm yet, 
boy ; leave it in peace ! The young hunter had no ear to such whisper 
of prudence or mercy. Dim and blind in the fissure, he struck the 
ground and the tree with his stick, shouted out, bade the eyes gleam, 
and defied them ; whether or not the reptile had spent its ire in the 
first fruitless spring, and this unlooked-for return of the intruder 
rather daunted than exasperated, we leave those better versed in 
natural history to conjecture ; but, instead of obeying the challenge 
and courting the contest, it glided by the sides of the oak, close to 
the very feet of its foe, and, emerging into the light, dragged its grey 
coils through the grass ; but its hiss still betrayed it. Gabriel sprang 
through the fissure, and struck at the craven, insulting it with a laugh 
of scorn as he struck. Suddenly it halted, suddenly reared its crest ; 
the throat swelled with venom, the tongue darted out, and again, 
green as emeralds, glared the spite of its eyes. No fear felt Gabriel 
Varney ; his arm was averted ; he gazed spelled and admiringly with 
the eye of an artist. Had he had pencil and tablet at that moment, 
he would have dropped his weapon for the sketch, though the snake 
had been as deadly as the viper of Sumatra. The sight sunk into his 
memory, to be reproduced often by the wild, morbid fancies of his 
hand. Scarce a moment, however, had he for the gaze ; the reptile 
sprang, and fell, baffled and bruised by the involuntary blow of its 
enemy. As it writhed on the grass, how its colours came out — how 
graceful were the movements of its pain ! And still the boy gazed, 
till the eye was sated, and the cruelty returned. A blow — a second 
— a third— all the beauty is gone — shapeless, and clotted with gore, 
that elegant head; mangled and dissevered the airy spires of that 
delicate shape, which had glanced in its circling involutions, free and 
winding as a poet's thought through his verse. The boy trampled 
the quivering relics into the sod, with a fierce animal joy of conquest, 
and tamed once more towards the htollow, for a last almost hopeless 
survey. _ Lo, his object was found ! In his search for the snake, 
either his staff, or kis foot, had disturbed a layer of moss in the 
corner; the faint raj, ere he entered the hollow, gleamed upon some- 
tiling white. He emerged from the cavity with a letter in his hand : 
he read the address, thrust it into his bosom, and as stealthily, but 
more rapidly, thun he had come, took his way to his f ather. 



LtTCKJtaia. {7J 



CHAPTER V- 

HOUSEHOLD TREASt N, 

The Provencal took the letter from his son's hand, and looked at 
him with an approbation half-complacent, half-ironical. "MonfiU !" 
said he, patting the boy's head gently ; " why should we not be friends ? 
We want each other ; M'e have the strong world to fight against." 

" Not if you are master of this place." 

" Well answered : no ; then we shall have the strong world on our 
side, and shall have only rogues and the poor to make war upon." Then, 
with a quiet gesture, ne dismissed his son, and gazed slowly on the 
letter. _ His pulse, which was usually low, quickened, and his lips 
were tightly compressed; he shrank from the contents with a jealous 
pang ; as a light quivers strugglingly in a noxious vault, love descended 
into that hideous breast, gleamed upon dreary horrors, and warred 
with the noxious atmosphere; but it shone still. To this dangerous man, 
every art that gives power to the household traitor was familiar : he 
had no fear that the violated seals should betray the fraud which: gave 
the contents to the eye that, at length, steadily fell upon the following 
lines : 

" Dearest, and ever dearest, — 

"Where art thou at this moment? what are thy thoughts? are 
they upon me ? I write this at the dead of night. I picture you to 
myself as my hand glides over the paper. I think I see you, as you 
look on these words, and envy them the gaze of those dark eyes. 
Press your lips to the paper. Do you feel the kiss that I leave there t 
Well, well ! it will not be for long now that we shall be divided. Oh, 
what joy, when I think that I am about to see you. Two days more, 
at most three, and we shall meet— shall we not ? I am going to see 
my sister. I subjoin my address. Come, come, come ; I thirst to see 
you once more. And 1 did well to say, ' Wait, and be patient ;' we 
shall not wait long : before the year is out I shall be free. _ My uncle 
lias had another and more deadly attack. I see its trace in his face, 
in his step, in his whole form and bearing. The only obstacle between 
us is fadiiig away. Can I grieve when I think it ? — grieve when life 
with you spreads smiling beyond the old man's grave ? And why 
should age, that has survived all passion, stand with its chilling frown, 
and the miserable prejudices the world has not conquered, but 
strengthened into a creed — why should age stand between youth 
and youth ? I feel your mild eyes rebuke me as I write. But chide 
me not that on earth I see only you. And it will be mine to give 
you wealth and rank! — mine to see the homage of my own heart 
reflected from the crowd who bow not to the statue, but the pedestal. 
Oil, how 1 shall enjoy your revenge upon the proud ! — for I have 
drawn no pastoral scenes in my picture of the future. No ; I sec 



>» LUCIUST1A. 

you leading senates, and duping fools. I shall be by your side, your 
partner, step after step, as you mount the height, for I am ambitious, 
you know, William ; and not less, because I love : rather ten 
thousand times more so. I would not have you born great and noble, 
for what then could we look to ? what use all my schemes, and my 
plans, and aspirings ? Fortune, accident would have taken from us 
the great zest of life, which is desire. 

" "When I see you, I shall tell you that I have some fears of Olivier 
Dalibard ; he has evidently some wily projects view. He, who never 
interfered before with the blundering physician, now thrusts him 
aside, affects to have saved the old man, attends him always. Dares 
he think to win an influence, to turn against me? — against us? Hap- 
pily, when I shall come back, my uncle will probably be restored to 
the false strength which deceives him ; he will have less need of 
Dalibard, and then — then let the Frenchman beware ! I have already 
a plot to turn his schemes to his own banishment. Come _ to South- 
ampton, then, as soon as you can — perhaps the day you receive this, — 
on Wednesday, at farthest. Your last letter implies blame of my 
policy with respect to Vernon. Again I say, it is necessary to amuse 
my uncle to the last. Before Vernon can advance a claim, there will 
be weeping at Laughton. I shall weep too, perhaps ; but there will 
be joy in those tears, as well as sorrow ; for then, when I clasp thy hand, 
I can murmur, ' It is mine at last, and for ever ! ' 

"Adieu! no, not adieu — to our meeting, my lover, my beloved ! — 
thy Ltjcketia ! " 

An hour after Miss Clavering had departed on her visit, Dalibard 
returned the letter to his son, the seal seemingly unbroken, and bade 
him replace it hi the hollow of the tree, but sufficiently in sight to 
.betray itself to the first that entered. He then communicated the 
plan he had formed for its detection — a plan which would prevent 
Lucretia ever suspecting the agency of his son or himself ; and this 
done, he joined Sir Miles in the gallery. Hitherto, in addition to his 
other apprehensions in revealing to the baronet Lucretia's clandestine 
intimacy with Mainwaring, Dalibard had shrunk from the thought 
that the disclosure would lose her the heritage which had first tempted 
his avarice or ambition ; but now his jealous and his vindictive passions 
were aroused, kud his whole plan of strategy was changed. He must 
crush Lucretia, or she would crush him, as her threats declared. To 
ruin her in Sir Miles's eyes, to expel her from his house, might not, 
after all, weaken his own position, even with regard to power over 
nerself . If he remained firmly established at Laughton, he could affect 
intercession, — he could delay, at least, any precipitate union with 
Mainwaring, by practising on the ambition which he still saw at work 
beneath her love : he_ might become a necessary ally, and then — why 
then — his ironical smile glanced across his lips. But beyond this his 
quick eye saw fair prospects to self-interest — Lucretia banished ; the 
heritage not hers ; the will to be altered ; Dalibard esteemed indispen- 
sable to the life of the baronet ! Come, there was hope here, — not for 
the heritage, indeed, but at least for a munificent bequest. 

At noon, so^ie visitors, bringing strangers from London, whom Sii 



LUC1USTIA. C.5 

Miles ha 1 in tited to sec the house (which was me of the lions of the 
neighbourhood, though not professedly a show-place), were expected. 
Aware of this, Dalibard prayed the baronet to rest quiet till his com- 
pany arrived, and then he said, carelessly, — ■ 

" It will be a healthful diversion to your spirits to accompany them 
a little in the park, — you can go in your garden-chair, — you will have 
new companions to talk with by the way ; and it is always warm and 
sunny at the slope of the hill, towards the bottom of the park." 

Sir Miles assented cheerfully ; the guests came, strolled over the 
house, admired the pictures, and the armour, and the hall, and the 
staircase, paid due respect to the substantial old-fashioned luncheon, 
and then, refreshed, and in great good-humour, acquiesced in Sir 
Miles's proposition to saunter through the park. 

The poor baronet was more lively than usual. The younger people 
clustered gaily round his chair (which was wheeled by his valet), 
smiling at his jests, and charmed with his courteous _high-breedmg\ A 
little in the rear walked Gabriel, paying special attention to the prettiest 
and merriest girl of the company, who was a great favourite with Sir 
Miles, perhaps for those reasons. 

" What a delightful old gentleman ! " said the young lady. " How 
1 envy Miss Clavering such an uncle ! " 

" Ah ! but vou are a little out of favour to-day, I can tell you," said 
Gabriel, laughingly; "you were close by Sir Miles when he went 
through the picture-gallery, and you never asked him the history of 
the old knight hi the buff doublet and blue sash." 
" Dear me — what of that ? " 

" Why, that was brave Colonel Guy St. John, the cavalier, the 
pride and boast of Sir Miles ; you know his weakness. He looked so 
displeased, when you said, ' What a droll-looking figure ! ' I was on 
thorns for you ! " 

" "What a pity ! I would not offend dear Sir Miles for the 
world." 

" Well, it's easy to make it up with him. Go, and tell him that hs 
mast take you to see Guy's Oak, in the dell ; that you have heard so 
much about it ; and when you get him on his hobby, it is hard if yon 
'.v.n't make your peace." 
" Oh ! I'll certainly do it, Master Varney ; " and the young lady 
st no time in obeying the hint. Gabriel had set other tongues on 
the same cry, so that there was a general exclamation, when the girl 
u^med the subject — " Oh, Guy's Oak, by all means ! " 

Much pleased with the enthusiasm this memorial of his pet ancestor 
V reduced, Sir Miles led the way to the dell, and, pausing as he reached 
the verge, said, — 

" I fear I cannot do you the honours ; it is too steep for my chair to 
descend safely." 

Gabriel whispered the fair companion whose side he still kept to. _ 

"Now, my dear Sir Miles," cried the girl, " 1 positively won't stir 

without you ; I am sure we could get down the chair witnout a jolt. 

L.ok there, how nicely the ground slopes ! Jane, Lucy, my dears, 

".et"us take charge of Sir Miles. Now, then." 

The gallant old gentleman would hare marched to the breach in such 



£f) LUC11ST1A. 

guidance ; he kissed the fair hands that lay so temptingly on his chtir, 
and then rising with suiuu difficulty, s...... — 

" No, my dears, you have made me so young again, that 1 think I 
can walk down the steep with the best of you." 

So, leaning partly on his valet, and by the help of the hands 
extended to him, step after step, Sir Miles, with well-disguised effort, 
reached the huge roots of the oak. 

" The hollow then was much smaller," said he, " so he was not so 
easily detected as a man would be now : the damned crop-ears — I beg 
pardon, my dears — the rascally rebels, poked their swords through the 
fissure, and two wen*, one through his jerkin, one through his arm ; 
but he took care not to swear at the liberty, and they went away, not 
suspecting him." 

While thus speaking, the young people were already playfully 
struggling which should first enter the oak. Two got precedence, 
and went in and out, one after the other. Gabriel breathed hard— 
" The blind owlets ! " thought he, " and I put the letter where a mole 
would have seen it !" 

" You know the spell when you enter an oak tree where the fairies 
have been," he whispered to the fair object of his notice. " You 
must turn round three times, look carefully on the ground, and you 
will see the face you love best. If I was but a little older, how I 
should pray ! " _ 

"Nonsense !" said the girl, blushing, as she now slid through the 
crowd, and went timidly m ; presently she uttered a little exclama- 
tion. 

The gallant Sir Miles stooped down to see what was the matter, 
and. offering his hand as she came out, was startled to see her holding 
a letter. 

" Only think what I have found !" said the girl. " What a strange 
place for a post-office ! Bless me ! it is directed to Mr. Main- 
waring!" 

"Mr. Mainwaring!" cried three or four voices; but the baronet's 
was mute. His eye recognised Lucretia's hand ; his tongue clove to 
the roof of his mouth ; the blood surged, like a sea, in his temples ; 
his face became purple. Suddenly Gabriel, peeping over the girl's 
shoulder, snatched away the letter. 

" It is my letter— it is mine ! What a shame in Mainwaring not to 
liave come for it as he promised ! " 

Sir Miles looked round and breathed more freely. 

" Yours, Master Varney ! " said the young lady, astonished. 
'What can make your letters to Mr. Mainwaring such a secret ? " 

" Oh ! you'll laugh at me ; but but -I wrote a poem on Guy's 

Oak, and Mr. Mainwaring promised to get it into the County Paper 
for me ; and as he was to pass close by the park pales, through the 

wood yonder, on his way to D last Saturday, we agreed that I 

should leave it here ; but he has forgotten Ms promise, I sec." 

Sir Miles grasped the boy's arm with a convulsive pressure of grati- 
tude. There was a general cry for Gabriel to read bis poem on the 
spot ; but the boy looked sheepish, and hung down his head, and 
seemed ratner more disposed to cry than to recite. Sir Miles, with 



LUCHETIA. C7 

Aa effort at simulation that all his long practice of tlio world nevei 
could have nerved hhn to, unexcited by a motive less strong than the 
honour of his blood and house, came to the relief of the young wit 
that had just come to his own. 

" Nay," he said, almost calmly, " I know our young poet is too shy 
to oblige you. I will take charge of your verses, Master Gabriel ;" 
and, with a grave air of command, he took the letter from the boy, 
and placed it in his pocket. 

The return to the house was less gay than the visit to the oak. 
The baronet himself made a feverish effort to appear blithe and 
debonnaire as before; but it was not successful. Fortunately, the 
carriages were all at the door as they reached the house, and luncheon 
being over, nothing delayed the parting compliments of the guests. 
As thelast carriage drove away, Sir Miles beckoned to Gabriel, and 
bade him follow hmi into his room. 

"When there, ne dismissed his valet, and said — 

" You know, then, who wrote this letter. Have you been in the 
secret of the correspondence ? Speak the truth, my dear boy, it shall 
cost you nothing." 

"Oh, Sir Miles!" cried Gabriel, earnestly, " I know nothing what- 
ever beyond this — that I saw the hand of my dear kind Miss Lucretia ; 
that I felt, I hardly knew why, that both you and she would not have 
those people discover it, which they would if the letter had been cir- 
culated from one to the other, for some one would have known the 
hand as well as myself, and therefore I spoke, without thinking, the 
first thing that came into my head." 

" You— you have obliged me and my niece, sir," said the baronet, 
tremulously ; and then with a forced and sickly smile, he added — 
" some foolish vagary of Lucretia's, I suppose ; I must scold her for 
it. Say nothing about it, however, to any one." 

"Oh no sir!" 

" Good-by, my dear Gabriel ! " 

"And that boy saved the honour of my niece's name— my mother's 
grandchild ! Oh, God ! this is bitter ! — in my old age too ! " 

He bowed his head over his hands, and tears forced themselves 
through his fingers. He was long before he had courage to read the 
letter, though he little foreboded all the shock that it would give hhn. 
It was the first letter, not destined to himself, of which, he liad ever 
broken the seal. Even that recollection made the honourable old man 
pause ; but his duty was plain and evident, as head of the house, and 
guardian to his niece. Thrice he wiped his spectacles ; still they 
were dim, still the tears would come. He rose tremblingly, walked 
to the window, and saw the stately deer grouped in the distance, saw 
the church spire, that rose above the burial-vault of his ancestors, and 
bis heart sunk deeper and deeper, as he muttered — " Vain pride ! 
pride !" Then he crept to the door, and locked it,_and at last, seat- 
ing himself firmly, as a wounded man to some terrible operation, he 
read the letter. 

Heaven support thee, old man ! thou hast to pass through the bit 
krest trial which honour and affection can undergo;- household 
treason ! When the wife lifts high the blushlcss fronf, an 1 brazens 



OS lucre'xia 

out her guilt ; when the child, with loud voice, throws off all control, 
and makes boast of disobedience, man revolts at the audacity; his 
spirit arms against his wrong ; its face, at least, is bare y the blow, if 
sacrilegious, is direct. But, when mild words and soft kisses conceal 
the worst foe Fate can arm — when amidst the confidence of the heart 
starts up the form of Perfidy — when out from the reptile swells the 
fiend in its terror — when the breast on which man leaned for comfort, 
has taken counsel to deceive him — when he leams, that day after day, 
the life entwined with his own has been a lie and a stage-mime, he 
feels not the softness of grief, nor the absorption of rage; it is 
mightier than grief, and more withering than rage ; it is a horror that 
appals. The heart does not bleed ; the tears do not flow, as in woes 
to which humanity is commonly subjected ; it is as if something thai 
violates the course of nature had taken place • something monstrous 
and out of all thought and forewarning ; for the domestic traitor is a 
being apart from the orbit of criminals • the felon has no fear of his 
innocent children ; with a price on his head, he lays it in safety on 
the bosom of his wife. In his home, the ablest man, the most subtle 
and suspecting, can be as much a dupe as the simplest. Were it not 
so as the rule, and the exceptions most rare, this world were the riot 
of a hell! 

And therefore it is that to the household perfidy, in all lands, in all 
ages, God's curse seems to cleave, and to God's curse man abandons 
it -. he does not honour it by hate, still less will he lighten and share 
the guilt by descending to revenge. He turns aside with a sickness 
and loathing, and leaves Nature to purify from the earth the ghastly 
phenomenon sne abhors. 

Old man, that she wilfully deceived thee-^that she abused thy 
belief — and denied to thy question — and profaned maidenhood to 
stealth, — all this might have galled thee, — but to these wrongs old 
men are subjected ;— they give mirth to our farces ; maid and lover 
are privileged impostors. But to have counted the sands in thine 
hour-glass, to have sate by thy side, marvelling when the worms 
should have thee — and looked smiling on thy face for the signs of the 
death-writ, — -die quick, old man, the executioner hungers for the fee ! 

There were no tears in those eyes when they came to the close — 
the letter fell noiselessly to the floor; and the head sank on the 
breast, and the hands drooped upon the poor crippled limbs, whose 
crawl in the sunshine hard youth had grudged. He felt humbled, 
stunned — crushed ; the pride was clean gone from him ; the cruel 
words struck home— worse than a cipher did he then but cumber the 
earth ? At that moment, old Ponto, the setter, shook himself, looked 
up, and laid his head in his master's lap; and Dash, jealous, rose also, 
and sprang, not actively, for Dash was old, too, upon his knees, and 
licked the numbed drooping hands. Now, people praise the fidelity 
of dogs till the theme is worn out, but nobody knows what a dog is, 
unless he has been deceived by men ; then, that honest face ; then, 
that sincere caress ; then, that coaxing whine that never bed ! Well, 
then— what then ? A dog is long-lived if he live to ten years — small 
career this to truth and friendship ! Now, when Sir Miles felt that 
he was not deserted, and his look met those four fond eyes, fixed with 



LUCRE! 1 A. 

that strange wist fulness which, in our hours of trouble, the eyes of a 
dog synipathisingly assume — an odd thought for a sensible man 
passed into him— showing, more than pages of sombre elegy, how 
Hera was the sudden misanthropy that Idackened the world around. 
" When I am dead," ran that thought, "is there one human being 
whom I can trust to take charge of the old man's dogs ? •"' 
So— let the scene close! 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE WILL. 

The next day, or rather the next evening, Sir Miles St. John was 
seated before his unshared chicken ; seated alone, and vaguely sur- 
prised at himself, in a large comfortable room in his old Hotel, 
Hanover-square; — yes, he had escaped. Hast thou, Reader, 
tasted the luxury of escape from a home where the charm is broken — 
where Distrust looks askant from the Lares ! In vain had Dalibard 
remonstrated, conjured up dangers, and asked at least to accompany 
him. Excepting his dogs and his old valet, who was too like a dog 
in his fond fidelity to rank amongst _ bipeds, Sir Miles did not wish to 
have about him a single face, familiar at Laughton, — Dalibard espe- 
cially. Lucretia's letter had hinted at plans and designs in Dalibard. 
It might be unjust, it might be ungrateful, but he grew sick at the 
thought that he was the centre-stone of stratagems and plots. The 
smooth face of the Provencal took a wily expression in his eyes ; nay, 
he thought his very footmen watched his steps as if to count how 
long before they followed his bier ! So, breaking from all roughly 
with a shake of his head, and a laconic assertion of business in 
London, he got into his carriage — his own old bachelor's lumbering 
travelling carnage — and bade the post-boys drive fast, fast. Then, 
when he felt alone — quite alone — and the gates of the lodge swung 
behind him, he rubbed his hands with a schoolboy's glee, and chuckled 
/oud, as if he enjoyed not only the sense but the fun of his safety — as 
'J he had done something prodigiously cunning: and clever. 

So when he saw himself snug in his old well-remembered hotel, in 
the same room as of yore — when returned, brisk and gay, from the 
breezes of "Weymouth, or the brouillards of Paris, he thought he shook 
hands again with his youth. Age and lameness, apoplexy and 
treason, all were forgotten for the moment. And when, as the excite- 
ment died, those grim spectres came back again to his thoughts, they 
found their victim braced and prepared, standing erect on that hearth, 
for whose hospitality he paid his giunea a-day— his front, proud and 
defying. He felt yet that he had fortune and power, that a move- 
ment of his hand could raise and strike down, that, at the verge 
of the tomb, he was armed, to punish or reward, with the balance 
and the sword. Tripped in the smug waiter, and announced " Mr 
Parchmoulit." 



70 LUC1U 1ZL, 

" Sot a chair, and show him in." 

The lawyer entered. 

" My dear Sir Miles, this is indeed a surprise. What has brcrac^f 
you to town ? " 

" The common whim of the old, sir. I would alter my will." 

Three days did lawyer and client devote to the task, for Sir Miles 
was minute, and Mr. Parchmount was precise ; and little difficulties 
arose, and changes in the first outline were made; and Sir Miles, 
from the very depth of his disgust, desired not to act only from 
passion. In that last deed of his life, the old man was sublime. He 
sought to rise out of the mortal, fix his eyes on the Great Judge, 
weigh circumstances and excuses, and keep justice even and serene. 

Meanwhile, unconscious of the train laid afar, Lucretia reposed on 
the mine — reposed, indeed, is not the word, for she was agitated and 
restless that Mainwaring had not obeyed her summons. She wrote 
to him again from Southampton the _ third day of her arrival ; 
but before his answer came, she received this short epistk from 
London : — 

" Mr. Parchmount presents his compliments to Miss Clavering, and, 
by desire of Sir Miles St. John, requests her not to return to Laugh- 
ton. Miss Clavering will hear further in a few days, when Sir Miles 
has concluded the business that has brought him to London," 

This letter, if it excited much curiosity, did not produce alarm. _ It 
was natural that Sir Miles should be busy in winding up his affairs : 
his journey to London for that purpose was no ill omen to her pros- 
pects, and her thoughts flew back to the one subject that tyrannized 
over them. Mainwaring's reply, which came Wo days afterwards, 
disquieted her much more. He had not found the letter she had left 
for him in the tree. He was full of apprehensions ; he condemned 
the imprudence of calling on her at Mr. Pielden's ; he begged her to 
renounce the idea of such a risk. He would return again to Guy's 
Oak and search more narrowly — had she changed the spot where the 
former letters were placed ? Yet now, not even the non-receipt of 
her letter, which she ascribed to the care with which she had concealed 
it amidst the dry leaves and moss, disturbed her so much as the evi- 
dent constraint with which Mainwaring wrote — the cautious and 
lukewarm remonstrance which answered her passionate appeal. It 
may be, that her very doubts, at times, of Mainwaring's affection had 
increased the ardour of her own attachment ; for in some natures, the 
excitement of fear deepens love more than the calmness of trust. 
Now with the doubt for_ the first time flashed the resentment, and 
her answer to Mainwaring was vehement and imperious. But the 
next day came a messenger express from London, with a letter from 
Mr. Parchmount. that arrested foi the moment even the fierce current 
of love. 

When the task had been completed— the will signed, sealed, and 
delivered — the old man had felt a load lifted from his heart. Three 
or four of his old friends, lions vivans like himself, had seen his arrival 
duly proclaimed in the newspapers, and had hastened to welcome him , 



1.UCHET1A. J j 

SV armed by the genial sight of faces associate' with tlie frank joys of 
his youth, Sir Miles, if he did not forget the prudent counsels of 
Dalibard, conceived a proud bitterness of joy in despising them. 
Why take such care of the worn-out carcase ? His will was made. 
What was left to life so peculiarly attractive ? He invited his friendii 
to a feast worthy of old : seasoned revellers were thev, with a free 
gout for a vent to all indulgence. So they came ; and they drank, and 
they laughed, and they talked back their young days : they saw not 
the nervous irritation, the strain on the spirits, the heated membrane 
of the brain, which made Sir Miles the most jovial of all. It was a 
night of nights— the old fellows were lifted back into their chariots or 
sedans. Sir Miles alone seemed as steady and sober as if he had 
supped with Diogenes. His servant, whose respectful admonitions 
hadbeen awed into silence, lent him his arm to bed, but Sir Miles 
scarcely touched it. The next morning, when the servant (who slept 
in the same room) awoke, to his surprise, the glare of a candle 
streamed on his eyes ; he rubbed them : could he see right ?— Sir 
Miles was seated at the table — he must have got up, and lighted a 
candle to write — noiselessly, indeed. The servant looked and looked, 
and the stillness of Sir Miles awed him: he was seated on an arm- 
chair, leaning back. As awe succeeded to suspicion, he sprang up, 
approached his master, took his hand : it was cold, and fell heavily 
from his clasp — Sir Miles must have been dead for hours. 

The pen lay on the ground, where it had dropped from the hand ; 
the letter on the table was scarcely commenced; the words ran 
thus — 

"Ltjcretia, — You will return no more _ to my house. You are 
free as if I were dead; but I shall be just. Would that I had 
been so to your mother — to your sister ! But I am old now as you 
say, and — — " 

To one who could have seen into that poor, proud heart, at the 
moment the hand paused for ever, what remained unwritten would 
have been clear. There was, first, the sharp struggle to conquer 
loathing repugnance, and address at all the false and degraded 
one ; then came the sharp sting of ingratitude— then the idea of the 
life grudged, and the grave desired — then the stout victory over scorn 
— the resolution to be just — then the reproach of the conscience, that 
for so far less an offence, the sister had been thrown aside — the com- 
fort, perhaps, found in her gentle and neglected child, obstinately 
repelled — then the conviction of all earthly vanity and nothingness — 
the look on into life, with the chilling sentiment that affection was 
gone — that he could never trust again — that he was too old to oper> 
his arms to new ties ; and then, before felt singly, all these thoughts 
united, and snapped the chord ! 

In announcing his mournful intelligence, with more feeling than 
might have been expected from a lawyer (but even his lawyer loved 
Sir Miles}, Mr. Parchmount observed, that " as the deceased lay at an 
hotel, and as Miss Clavering's presence would not be needed in the 
performance of the last rites, she would probably forbear the journey 



/2 LTJCUETIA . 

to town. Nevertheless, as it was Sir Miles's wish that the will should 
be opened as soon as possible after his death, and it would, doubtless, 
contain instructions as to his fux v, it would be well that Miss Cla- 
vering and her sister should immediately depute some one to attend 
the reading of the testament on their behalf. Perhaps Mr. Fielden 
would kindly undertake that melancholy office." 

To do justice to Lucretia, it must be said, that her first emotions, 
on the receipt of this letter, were those of a poignant and remorseful 
grief, for which she was unprepared. But how different it is to count 
on what shall follow death, and to know that death has come ! Susan's 
sobbing sympathy availed not, nor Mr. Fielden' s pious and tearful 
exhortations ; her own sinful thoughts and hopes came back to her, 
haunting and stern as furies. She insisted at first upon going to 
London — gazing once more on the clay : nay, the carriage was at the 
door, for all yielded to her vehemence; but then her heart misgave 
her : she did not dare to face the dead ! Conscience waved her back 
from the solemn offices of nature ; she hid her face with her hands, 
shrunk again into her room ; and Mr. Fielden, assuming unbidden the 
responsibility, went alone. 

Only Vernon (summoned from Brighton), the good clergyman, and 
the lawyer, to whom, as sole executor, the will was addressed, and in 
whose custody it had been left, were present when the seal of the 
testament was broken. The will was long, as is common when the 
dust that it disposes of covers some fourteen or fifteen thousand acres. 
But out of the mass of technicalities and repetitions these points of 
interest rose salient — To Charles Vernon, of Vernon Grange, Esq., 
and his heirs by him lawfully begotten, were left all the lands and 
woods and manors that covered that space in the Hampshire map, 
known by the name of the "Laughton property," on condition that 
he and his heirs assumed the name and arms of St. John ; and on the 
failure of Mr. Vernon's issue, the estate passed, first (with the same 
conditions) to the issue of Susan Mivers ; next to that of Lucretia 
CUvering. There the entail ceased — and the contingency fell to the rival 
ingenuity of lawyers in hunting out, amongst the remote and forgotten 
descendants of some ancient St. John, the heir-at-law. To Lucretia 
Clavering, without a word of endearment, was bequeathed £10,000 : 
the usual portion which the house of St. John had allotted to its 
daughters ; to Susan Mivers the same sum, but with the addition of 
these words, withheld from her sister — " and my blessing !" To 
Olivier Dalibard an annuity of £200 a year; to Honore Gabriel 
Varney, £3,000; to the Rev. Matthew Fielden, £4,000; and the 
same sum to John Walter Ardworth. To his favourite servant, Henry 
Jones, an ample provision, and the charge of his dogs Dash and Ponto, 
with an allowance therefor, to be paid weekly, and cease at their 
deaths. Poor old man ! he made it the interest of their guardian not 
to grudge their lees of life. _ To his other attendants, suitable and 
munificent bequests, proportioned to the length of their services. 
For bis body, he desired it to be buried in the vault of his ancestors 
without pomp, but without a pretence to a humility which he had not 
manifested in life ; and he requested that a small miniature in his 
writing-desk should be placed in his coffin. That last iniuuetion was 



M!c;u«'iA. 73 

nore than a tentimcnt : it bespoke 1hc moral conviction of the happi- 
iess the original might have conferred on his life ; — of that happiness 
jis pride had deprived him ; nor did he repent, for he had deemed 
pride a duty ; but the mute likeness, buried in his grave — that tol.'i 
he might of the sacrifice he had made ! Death removes all distinc- 
ions, and in the coffin the Lord of Laughton might choose his 
>artner. 

When the will had been read, Mr. Parchmount produced two 
otters, one addressed in the hand of the deceased to Mr. Vernon, the 
ither m the lawyer's own hand to Miss Clavering. The last enclosed 
he fragment found on Sir Miles's table, and her own letter to Main- 
■varing, re-directed to her in Sir Miles's boldest and stateliest auto- 
graph. He had, no doubt, meant to return it in the letter left 
incompleted. 

The letter to Vernon contained a copy of Lucretia's fatal epistle, 
md the following lines to Vernon himself : 

" My deab Charles, — "With much deliberation, and with natural 
reluctance to reveal to you my niece's shame, I feel it my duty to 
transmit to you the accompanying enclosure, copied from the original 
with my own hand, which the task sullied. I do so first, because 
otherwise you might, as I should have done in your place, feel bound 
in honour to persist in the offer of your hand — feel bound the more, 
because Miss Clavering is not my heiress ; secondly, because had her 
attachment been stronger than her interest, and she hadrefused your 
offer, you might still have deemed her hardly and capriciously dealt 
with by me, and not only sought to augment her portion, but have 
profaned the house of my ancestors by receiving her there, as an 
nonoured and welcome relative and guest. Now, Charles Vernon, 
I believe, to the utmost of my poor judgment, I have done what is 
light and just. I have taken into consideration, that this young- 
person has been brought up as a daughter of my house, and what 
the daughters of my house have received, I bequeath her ; I put 
aside, as far as I can, all resentment of mere family pride ; I show 
that I do so when I repair my harshness to my poor sister, and leave 
both her children the same provision. And if you exceed what I have 
done for Lucretia, unless, on more dispassionate consideration than I 
can give, you conscientiously think me wrong, you insult my memory 
and impugn my justice. Be it in this as your conscience dictates ; but 
I entreat, I adjure ; I command at least, that you never knowingly 
admit by a hearth, hitherto sacred to unblemished truth and honour, 
a person who has desecrated it with treason. As gentleman to 
gentleman, I impose on you this solemn injunction. I could have 
wished to leave that young woman's children barred from the entail ; 
but our old tree has so few branches ! You are unwedded ; Susan, 
too. I must take my chance that Miss Covering's children, if ever 
they inherit, do not imitate the mother. I conclude she will wed lhat 
Mainwaring; her children will have a low-born father. Well, her 
race, at least, is pure. Clavering and St. John are names to guarantee 
faith and honour; yet you see what she is !— Charles Vernon, if her issue 
inherit the soul of gentlemen, it must come, after all, not from the 



7-i xUCRETIA, 

well-born mother! I have lived to say this; I, who- -but perhaps if 

we had looked more closely into the pedigree of those Clavenngs ! 

" Marry yourself— marry soon, Charles Vernon, my dear kinsman 
—keep the old house in the old line, and true to its old fame. Be 
kind and good to my poor — don't strain on the tenants. By the v, ay, 
Farmer Strongbow owes three years' rent— I forgive him— pension 
him off— he can do no good to the land, but he was born on it, and 
must not fall on the parish. But to be kind and good to the poor, 
not to strain on the tenants, you must learn not to waste, my dear 
Charles. A needy man can never be generous without being unjust. 
How give, if you are in debt ? You will think of this— now— now— 
while your good heart is soft — while your feelings are moved.. 
Charley Vernon, I think you will shed a tear when you see my arm- 
chair still and empty. And I would have left you the care of my 
dogs, but you are thoughtless, and will go much to London, and they 
are used to the country now. Old Jones will have a cottage in the 
village ; he has promised to live there ; drop in now and then, and see 
poor Ponto and Dash. It is late, and old friends come to dine here. 
So, if anything happens to me, and we don't meet again, good bye, 
and God bless you. — Your affectionate kinsman, 

"Miles St. John." 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE ENGAGEMENT. 

It is somewhat less than three months after the death of Sir Miles 
St. John — November reigns in London. And " reigns" seems scarcely 
a metaphysical expression as applied to the sullen, absolute sway 
which that dreary month (first m the dynasty of Winter) spreads 
over the passive, dejected city. Elsewhere in England, November is 
no such gloomy, grim fellow as he is described. Over the brown glebes 
and changed woods in the country, his still face looks contemplative 
and mild ; and he has soft smiles, too, at times — lighting up his taxed 
vassals the groves,— gleaming where the leaves still cling to the 
boughs, — and reflected in dimples from the waves which still glide free 
from his chains. But as a conqueror, who makes his home in the 
capital, weighs down with hard policy the mutinous citizens, long ere 
his iron influence is felt in the province, go the first tyrant of Winter 
has only rigour and frowns for London. The very aspect of the way- 
farers has the look of men newly enslaved ; cloaked and muffled, they 
steal to and fro through the dismal fogs. Even the children creep 
timidly through the streets ; the carriages go cautious and hearse- 
like along ; daylight is dim and obscure ; the town is not filled, nor 
the brisk mirth of Christmas commenced ; the unsocial shadows flit 
amidst the miet, like men on the eve of a fatal conspiracy. Each other 
month in London has its charms for the experienced. Even from 



August to October, when The Season lies dormant, and Fashion 
forbids her sons to be seen within hearing of Bow ? the true lover of 
London finds pleasure still at hand, if he search for her duly; — the 
early walks through the parks and green Kensington Gardens, which 
now change their character of resort, and seem rural and countrylike, 
but yet with more life than the country ; for on the benches beneath 
the trees, and along the sward, and up the malls, are living beings 
enough to interest the eye, and divert the thoughts, if you are a guesser 
into character, and amateur of the human face ; fresh nursery-maid 
and playful children, and the old shabby-genteel buttoned-up officer, 
musing on half -pay, as he sits alone in some alcove of Kenna, or leans 
pensive over the rail of the vacant Ring; and early tradesman, or 
clerk from the suburban lodging, trudging brisk to his business,— for 
business never ceases in London ; then at noon, what delight to escape 
to the banks at Putney or Richmond, — the row up the river, — the 
fishing-punt, — the ease at your inn till dark ! — or, if this tempt not, 
still, Autumn shines clear and calm over the roofs, where the smoke 
has a holiday ; and how clean gleam the vistas through the tranquil- 
iised thoroughfares ; and as you saunter along, you have all London 
to yourself, Andrew Selkirk, but with the mart of the world for your 
desert ! And when October comes on, it has one characteristic of 
spring, — life busily returns to the city ; you see the shops bustling up, 
trade flowing back ; as birds scent the April, so the children of com- 
merce plume their wings, and prepare for the first slack returns of the 
season. But November !— strange the taste, stout the lungs, grief- 
defying the heart of the visitor wno finds charms and joy in a London 
November. 

In a small lodging-house in Bulstrode-street, Manchester-square, 
grouped a family in mourning, who had had the temerity to come_ to 
town in November, for the purpose, no doubt, of raising their spirits. 
In the dull small drawing-room of the dull small house, we introduce 
to you, first, a middle-aged gentleman, whose dress showed, what dress 
now fails to show — his profession ; nobody could mistake the cut of 
the cloth, and the shape of the hat, for he had just come in from a 
walk, and not from discourtesy, but abstraction, the broad brim still 
shadowed his pleasant placid face. Parson spoke out in him, from 
oeaver to buckle. By the coal fire, where, through volumes of smoke, 
fussed and flickered a pretension to flame, sat a middle-aged lady, 
whom, without being a conjuror, you would pronounce at once to be 
wife to the parson ; and sundry children sat on stools all about her, 
with one book between them, and a low whispered murmur from their 
two or three pursedrup lips, announcing that that book was super- 
fluous. By the last ot three dim-looking windows, made dimmer by 
brown moreen draperies, edged genteelly with black cotton velvet, 
stood a girl of very soft and pensive expression of features — pretty, 
unquestionably — excessively pretty ; but there was something so deli- 
cate and elegant about her, — the bend of her head, the shape of her 
slight figure, the little fair hands crossed one on each other, as the 
face mournfully and listlessly turned to the window— that " pretty " 
would have seemed a word of praise, too often proffered to milliner 
and j c"»ing-maid ; nevertheless, it was perhaps the right one • kici 



76 LUCKKT1A.. 

some would Lave implied something statelier, and more command, i,<» 
— beautiful, greater regularity of feature, or richness of colouring. 
The parson, who since his entrance had been walking up and down 
the small room with his hands behind him, glancing now and then at 
the young lady, but not speaking, at length paused from that mono- 
tonous exercise by the chair of iiis wife, and touched her shoulder. 
She stopped from her work, which, more engrossing than elegant, was 
nothing less than what is technically called " the taking in" of a cer- 
tain bluejacket, which was about to pass from Matthew, the eldest 
born, to David, the second, and looked up at her husband affection- 
ately ; her husband, however, spoke not, he only made a sign, partly 
with his eyebrow, partly with a jerk of his thumb over his right 
shoulder, in the direction of the young kidy we have described, and 
then completed the pantomime with a melancholy shake of the head. 
The wife turned round, and looked hard, the scissors horizontally 
raised in one hand, while the other reposed on the cuff of the jacket. 
At this moment a low knock was heard at the street-door. The 
worthy pair saw the girl shrink back, with a kind of tremulous move- 
ment ; presently there came the sound of a footstep below — the creak 
of a hinge on the ground-floor — and again all was silent. 

"That is Mr. Mainwaring's knock," said one of the children. 

The girl left the room abruptly, and, light as was her step, they 
heard her steal up the stairs. 

" My dears," said the parson, " it wants an hour yet to dark, you 
may go and walk in the square." 

" "Tis so dull hi that ugly square, and they won't let us into the 
green. I am sure we'd rather stay here," said one of the children, 
as spokesman for the rest, and they all nestled closer round the 
hearth. 

" But, my dears," said the parson, simply, " I want to talk alone 
(vith your mother. However, if you like best to go and keep quiet in 
your own room, you may do so." 

" Or we can go into Susan's?" 

"No," said the parson; " you must not disturb Susan." 

" She never used to care about being disturbed. I w r onder what's 
come to her?" 

The parson made no rejoinder to this half-petidant question. The 
children consulted together a moment, and resolved that the square, 
though so dull, was less dull than their own little attic. That being 
decided, it was the mother's turn to address them. And though 
Mr. I'ielden w-as as anxious and fond as most fathers, he grew a little 
impatient before comforters, kerchiefs, and muffattecs were arranged, 
and minute exordiums as to the danger of crossing the street, and 
the risk of patting strange dogs, &c. &c, were half-way concluded ; 
— with a shrug and a smile, he at length fairly pushed out the chil- 
dren, shut the door, and drew the chair close to his wife's. 

" My dear," he began at once, " I am extremely uneasy about that 
poor girl." 

" What ! Miss Clavering ? Indeed, she eats almost nothing at all, 
and sits so moping alone ; but she sees Mr. Mainwaring every day. 
What can we do ? She is so proud, I'm afraid of her." 



LUCKETIA. 77 

" My dear, I was not thinking of Miss Clavering, though I did not 
interrupt you, for it is very true that she is much to be pitied." 

" And I am sure it was for her sake alone that you agreed to 
Susan's request, and got Blackmail to do duty for you at the vicarage, 
while we all came up here, in hopes London town would divert her. 
We left all at sixes and sevens ; and I should not at all wonder if 
John made away with the apples." 

" But, I say," resumed the parson, without heeding that mournful 
foreboding — " I say, I was then only thinking of Susan. You see 
now pale and sad she is grown." 

" Why, she is so very soft-hearted, and she must feel for hei 
sister." 

" But her sister, though she thinks much, and keeps aloof from 
us, is not sad herself; only reserved. On the contrary, I believe she 
has now got over even poor Sir Miles's death." 

" And the loss of the great property ! " 

" Me, Mary ! " said Mr. Fielden, almost austerely. 

Mary looked down, rebuked, for she was not one of the high- 
spirited wives who despise their husbands for goodness. 

" I beg pardon, my dear," she said, meekly ; " it was very wrong 
in me; Dut I cannot — do what I will — I cannot like that Miss 
Clavering." 

" The more need to judge her with charity. And, if what I fear 
is the ease, I'm sure we can't feel too much compassion for the poor, 
blinded young lady." 

" Bless my heart, Mr. Fielden, what is it you mean ?" 

The parson looked round, to be sure the door was quite closed, and 
replied, in a whisper — " I mean, that I fear William Mainwaring 
loves not Lucretia, but Susan." 

" The scissors fell from the hand of Mrs. Fielden ; and though one 
point stuck in the ground, and the other point threatened war upon 
flounces and toes, strange to say, she did not even stoop to remove 
the chcvau.v-de-frise. 

"Why, then, he's a most false-hearted young man !" 

"To blame, certainly," said Fielden; "I don't say to the con- 
trary, though I like the young man, and am sure that he's more timid 
than false. I may now tell you— for I want your advice, Mary — 
what I kept secret before. When Mainwaring visited us, many 
months ago, at Southampton, he confessed to me that he felt warmly 
for Susan, and asked if I thought Sir Miles would consent. I knew 
too well how proud the poor old gentleman was, to give him any such 
hopes. So he left very honourably. You remember, after he went, 
that Susan's spirits were low — you remarked it." 

" Yes, indeed, I remember. But when the first shock of Sir Miles's 
death was over, she got back her sweet colour, and looked cheerful 
enough." 

" Because, perhaps, then she felt that she had a fortune to bestow 
on Mr ; Mainwaring, and thought all obstacle was over." 

" Why, how clever you are ! How did you get at her thoughts P " 

" My own folly — my own rash folly," almost gi oaned Mr. Fielden. 
" For, not Erimssinsr that Mr. Mainwaring could have got engaged 



?3 liUCBJS'flA. 

meanwhile to Lucretia, and suspecting how it was with Susan's poor 
little heart, I let out, in a jest— Heaven forgive me !— what William 
had said ; and the dear child blushed, and kissed me, and— why a 
day or two after, when it was fixed that we should come up to Lon- 
don, Lucretia informed me, with her freezing politeness, that she 
was to marry Mainwaring herself, as soon as her first mourning was 
over." 

"Poor, dear — dear Susan!" 

" Susan behaved like an angel ; and when I broached it to her, 1 
thought she was calm ; and I am sure she prayed with her whole 
heart that both might be happy." , 

" I'm sure she did. What is to be done ? I understand it all 
now. Dear me, dear me !— a sad piece of work, indeed." And Mrs. 
Pielden abstractedly picked up the scissors. 

" It was not till our coming to town, and Mr. Mainwaring's visits 
to Lucretia, that her strength gave way." 

" A hard sight to bear : I never could have borne it, my love. If 
I had seen you paying court to another, I should have — I don't 
know what I should have done ! But what an artful wretch this 
young Mainwaring must be." 

" Not very artful ; for you see that he looks even sadder than 
Susan. He got entangled somehow, to be sure. _ Perhaps he had 
given up Susan in despair ; and Miss Clavering, if haughty, 1 is no 
doubt a very superior young lady; and, I _ dare say, it is only now 
hi seeing them ooth together, and comparing the two, that he feels 
what a treasure he has lost. Well, what do you advise, Mpry ? 
Mainwaring, no doubt, is bound in honour to Miss Clavering • but 
she will be sure to discover, sooner or later, the state of his feelings, 
and then I tremble for both. I'm sure she will never be happy, 
while he will be wretched ; and Susan — I dare not think upon Susan 
— she has a cough that goes to my heart." 

" So she has ; that cough — you don't know the money I spend on 
black-currant jelly ! What's my advice ? why, I'd speak to Miss 
Clavering at once, if I dared. I'm sure love will never break her 
heart ; and she's so proud, she'd throw him off without a sigh, if she 
knew how things stood." 

' I believe you are right," said Mr. Pielden ; " for truth is the best 
j policy, after all. Still, it's scarce my business to meddle; and if it 
) were not for Susan — well, well, I must think of it, and pray Heaven 
j to direct me." 

'' This conference suffices to explain to thereader the stage to which 
the history of Lucretia had arrived. Willingly we pass over what it 
were scarcely possible to describe — her first shock at the fall from 
the expectations of her life ; — fortune, rank, and what she valued 
more than either, power — crushed at a blow. From the dark and 
sullen despair into which she was first plunged, she was roused into 
hope— into something like joy— by Mainwaring's letters. Never had 
they been so warm and so tender ; for the young man felt not only 
poignant remorse that be had been the cause of her downfall (though 
slie broke it to him with more delicacy than might have been expected 
from the state of her feelings and the hardness of her character), but 



1TJ0HEIIA. 79 

{ c felt also imperiously the obligations which her loss rendered more 
binding than ever, lie persuaded, he urged, he forced himself into 
affection ; and, probably, without a murmur of his heart, he would 
have gone with her to the altar, and, once wedded, custom and duty 
would have strengthened the chain imposed on himself, had it not 
been for Lucretia's fatal eagerness to see him, to come up to London, 
where she induced him to meet her — for with her came Susan ; and 
in Susan's averted face, and trembling hand, and mute avoidance of 
his eye, he read all which the poor dissembler fancied she concealed. 
But the die was cast, the union announced, the time fixed, and day 
by day he came to the house, to leave it in anguish and despair. A 
feeling they shared in common caused these two unhappy persons to 
shun each other. Mainwaring rarely came into the usual sitting- 
room of the family ; and when he did so, chiefly in the evening, Susan 
usually took refuge in her own room. If they met it was by accident, 
on the stairs, or at the sudden opening of a door ; then not only no 
word, but scarcely even a look, was exchanged ; neither had the 
courage to face the other. Perhaps, of the two, this reserve weighed 
most on Susan ; perhaps she most yearned to break the silence, for 
she thought she divined the cause of Mainwaring' s gloomy and mute 
constraint, in the upbraidings of his conscience, which might doubt- 
less recall — if no positive pledge to Susan — at least, those words and 
tones which betray the one heart, and seek to allure the other; and 
the profound melancholy stamped on his whole person, apparent even 
to her hurried glance, touched her with a compassion free from ail 
the bitterness of selfish reproach. She fancied she could die happy if 
she could remove that cloud from his brow, that shadow from his 
conscience. Die — for she thought not of life. She loved gently, 
quietly; not with the vehement passion that belongs to stronger 
natures ; but it was the love of which the young and the pure have 
died. The face of the Genius was calm and soft ; and only by lower- 
ing of the hand do you see that the torch burns out, and that the 
image too serene for earthly love, is the genius of loving Death. 

Absorbed in the egotism of her passion — increased, as is ever the 
case with women, even the worst, by the sacrifices it had cost her — 
and if that passion paused, by the energy of her ambition, which 
already began to scheme and re-construct new scaffolds to repair the 
ruined walls of the past, Lucretia as yet had not detected what was 
so apparent to the simple sense of Mr. Fielden. That Mainwaring 
was grave, and thoughtful, and abstracted, she ascribed only to his 
grief at the thought of her loss, and his anxieties for her altered 
figure; and in her efforts to console him, her attempts to convince 
him that greatness in England did not consist only in lands and 
ii.anors — that in the higher walks of life which conduct to the Temple 
■ i' Renown, the leaders of the procession are the aristocracy of know- 
1 dge and of. intellect — she so Defrayed, not generous emulation and 
i.igh-souled aspiring, but the dark, unscrupulous, tortuous ambition 
( ■' cunning, stratagem, and intrigue, that instead of feeling grateful 
:.:.:! encouraged, he shuddered and revolted. How, accompanied and 
i 1 by a spirit which he felt to be stronger and more commanding 
u..:. ':.-.'. wn — how preserve the whiteness of his soul, the uprightness 



SO LUCKillA. 

of his honour ? Already he felt himself debased. But in the still trial 
of domestic intercourse, with the daily, hourly dripping on the stone, 
in the many struggles between truth and falsehood, guile and candour, 
which men— and, above all, ambitious men— must wage, what darker 
angel would whisper him in his monitor? Still he was bound- - 
bound with an iron band— he writhed, but dreamed not of escape. 

The day after that of Fielden's conference with his wife, an unex- 
pected visitor came to the house. Olivier Dalibard called. He had 
«ot seen Lucrctia since she had left Laughton, nor had any corre- 
spondence passed between them. He came at dusk, just after Mam- 
naring's daily visit was over, and Lucretia was still in the parlour 
which she had appropriated to herself. Her brow contracted as his 
name was announced, and the maid-servant lighted the candle on the 
table, stirred Ihe fire, and gave a tug at the curtains. Her eye, 
glancing from his, round the mean room, with its dingy, horsehair 
furniture, involuntarily implied the contrast between the past state 
and the present, which his sight could scarely help to impress on her. 
But she welcomed him with her usual stately composure, and without 
reference to what had been. Dalibard was secretly anxious to dis- 
cover if she suspected himself of any agency in the detection of the 
eventful letter, and, assured by her maimer that no such thought was 
yet harboured, he thought it best to imitate her own reserve. He 
assumed, however, a manner that, far more respectful than lie^ ever 
before observed to his pupil, was nevertheless sufficiently kind and 
familiar to restore them gradually to their old footing ; and that he 
succeeded was apparent, when, after a pause, Lucretia said abruptly 
— " How did Sir Miles St. John discover my correspondence with 
Mr. Mainwaring ? " 

" Is it possible that you are ignorant ? All, how — how should you 
know it?" And Dalibard so simply explained the occurrence, in 
which, indeed, it was impossible to trace the hand that had moved 
springs which seemed so entirely set at work by an accident, that 
despite the extreme suspiciousness of her nature, Lucretia did not 
see a pretence for accusing him. Indeed, when he related the little 
subterfuge of Gabriel, his attempt to save her by taking the letter on 
himself, she felt thankful to the boy, and deemed Gabriel's conduct 
quite in keeping with his attachment to herself. And this accounted 
satisfactorily for_ the only circumstance that had ever troubled her 
with a doubt — viz., the legacy left to Gabriel. She knew enough of 
Sir Miles to be aware that he would be grateful to any one who had 
saved the name of his niece, even while most embittered against her, 
from the shame attached to clandestine correspondence. 

" It is strange, nevertheless," said she, thoughtfully, after a pause, 
'"' that the girl should have detected the letter, concealed, as it was, 
by the leaves that covered it." 

"But," answered Dalibard, readily, "you see two or tliree persor.3 
had entered before, and their feet must have displaced the leaves." 

" Possibly ; the evil is now past recall." 

"And Mr. Mainwaring? do you still adhere to one who has cvA 
you so much, poor child? " 

" In three months more I shall be his wife." 



I-UCKJSTIA. Si 

Dalibard sighed deeply, but oll'i-rcd no remonstrance. 

" \\ ell," he said, taking her hand with mingled reverence n:ai 
ailcction — "well, I oppose your inclinations no more, for now there i* 
nothing to risk ; you are mistress of your own fortune ; and since 
Mainwaring has talents, that fortune will suffice for a career. jVre 
you at length convinced that I have conquered my folly ? that I was 
disinterested when I incurred your displeasure? If so, can you 
restore to me your friendship ? You will have some struggle with 
the world, and, with my long experience of men and life, even I, the 
poor exile, may assist you." 

And so thought Lucretia ; for with some dread of Dalibard's craft, 
she yet credited liis attachment to herself, and she felt profound 
admiration for an intelligence more consummate and accomplished 
t han any ever yet submitted to her comprehension. From that time, 
Dalibard became an habitual visitor at the house ; he never interfered 
with Lucretia' s interviews with Mainwaring; ho took the union for 
granted, and conversed with her cheerfully on the prospects before 
her; he ingratiated himself with tl/j Fieldens, played with the chil- 
dren, made himself at home, and in the evenings when Mainwaring, 
as often as he could find the excuse, absented himself from the family 
circle, he contrived to draw Lucretia into more social intercourse 
with her homely companions than, she had before condescended to 
admit. Good Mr. Fielden rejoiced : here was the very person, the 
old friend of Sir Miles, the preceptor of Lucretia herself, evidently 
most attached to her, having influence over her — the very person to 
whom to confide his embarrassment. One day, therefore, when 
Dalibard had touched his heart by noticing the paleness of Susan, 
he took him aside, and told him all. "And now," concluded the 
pastor, hoping he had found one to relieve him of his dreaded, and 
ungracious task, "don't you think that I — or, rather, you — 
as so old a friend, should speak frankly to Miss Clavering 
herself" 

'"' No, indeed," said the Provencal, quickly; "if wc spoke to her 
she would disbelieve us. She would no doubt appeal to Mainwaring, 
and Mainwaring would have no choice but to contradict us. Once 
put on his guard, he would control his very sadness. Lucretia, 
offended, might leave your house, and certainly she would regard her 
sister as having influenced your confession — a position unworthy Miss 
Mivers. But do not fear ; if the evil be so, it carries with it its ine- 
vitable remedy. Let Lucretia discover it herself; but, pardon me, 
she must have seen, at your first reception of Mainwaring, that he 
had before been acquainted with you?" 

" She was not in the room when we first received Mainwaring, and 
I have always been distant to him, as you may suppose, for I felt dis- 
appointed and displeased. Of course, however, sue is aware that we 
knew liim before she did. AVhat of that ?" 

" Why, do you think then he told her at Laughton of this acquaint- 
ance ''— that he spoke of Susan? — I suspect not." 

" I cannot say, I am sure," said Mr. Fielden. 

"Ask her that question accidentally, and for the rest be discreet., 
my dear sir. I thank you for your confidenue. I will watch vreil 



1 3 LUCKETIA 

over my poor young pupil. She must not, indeed, be sacrified to a 
man whose affections are engaged elsewhere. "_ 

Dalibard trod on air as he left the house ; his very countenance had 
changed ; he seemed ten years younger. It was evening ; and sud- 
denly, as he came into Oxford-street, he encountered a knot of young 
men — noisy and laughing loud — obstructing the pavement, breaking 
jests on the more sober passengers, and attracting the especial and 
admiring attention of sundry ladies in plumed hats and scarlet pelisses ; 
:or the streets then enjoyed a gay liberty which has vanished from 
London with the lanterns of the watchmen. Nosiest, and most con- 
spicuous of these descendants of the Mohawks, the sleek and orderly 
scholar beheld the childish figure of his son. Nor did Gabriel shrink 
ft om his father's eye, stern and scornful as it was, but rather braved 
the glance with an impudentleer. 

Bight, however, in the midst of the group, strode the Provencal, 
and lajdng his hand very gently on the boy's shoulder, he said — " My 
son, come with me." 

Gabriel looked irresolute, and glanced at his companions. De- 
lighted at the prospect of a scene, they now gathered round, with 
countenances and gestures that seemed little disposed to acknowledge 
the parental authority. 

" Gentlemen," said Dalibard, turning a shade more pale, for thougn 
morally most resolute, physically he was not brave — " gentlemen, I 
must beg you to excuse me — this child is my son!" 

"But Art is his mother," replied a tall, raw-boned young man, with 
long tawny hair streaming down from a hat very much battered. " At 
the juvenile age, the child is consigned to the mother ! Have I said 
it ? " and he turned round theatrically to his comrades. 

" Bravo ! " cried the rest, clapping their hands. 

"Down with all tyrants and fathers — hip, hip, hurrah!" and 
the hideous diapason nearly split the drum ot the ears into which it 
resounded. 

" Gabriel," whispered the father, " you had better follow me, had 
you. not? Reflect!" £>o saying, he bowed low to the unpropitious 
assembly, and, as if yielding the victory, stepped aside, and crossed 
over towards Bond-street. 

Before the din of derision and triumph died away, Dalibard looked 
back, and saw Gabriel beliind him. 

" Approach, sir," he said, and as the boy stood still, he added, '' I 
promise peace, if you will accept it." 

"Peace, then!" answered Gabriel, and he joined his father's 
side. 

" So," said Dalibard, " when T consented to your studying Art, as 
you call it, under your mother's most respectable brother, I ought to 
have contemplated what would be the natural and becoming compa- 
nions of the rising Baffaele I have given to the world." 

"I own, sir," replied Gabriel, demurely, "that they are riotous 
fellows, but some of them are clever, and " 

" And excessively drunk," interrupted Dalibard, examining the gait 
of his son. "Do you learn that accomplishment also, by way of 
Et?adying your hand for the easel ?' ; 



1 UCKETIA. fc'J 

"No, sir; I like wine -well enough, but I would not be drunk for 
the world. I see people when they are drank are mere fools— let out 
iheir secrets, and show themselves up." 

"Well said," replied the father, almost admiringly; "but a truce 
with this bantering, Gabriel. Can you imagine that I will permit you 
any longer to remain with that vagabond Varney, and yon crew of 
Vauriens? You will come home with me; and if you must be a 
painter, I will look out for a more trustworthy master." 

" I shall stay where I am," answered Gabriel, firmly, and com- 
pressing his lips with a force that left them bloodless. 

" What, boy ? do I hear right ? Dare you disobey me ? Dare you 
defy?" 
'' Not in your house, so I will not enter it again." 
Dalibard laughed, mockingly. 

" Peste! but this is modest ! You are not of age, yet, Mr. Varney ; 
— you are not free from a father's tyrannical control." 

_" The law does not own you as my father, I am told, sir ; you have 
said my name rightly — it is Vamey, not Dalibard. We have no rights 
over each other ; so at least says Tom Passmore, and his father's a 
lawyer!" 

Dalibard's band griped his son's arm fiercely. Despite his pain, 
which was acute, the cliild uttered no cry ; but he growled beneath 
his teeth, "Beware! beware! — or my mother's son may avenge her 
death!" 

Dalibard removed his hand, and staggered as if struck. Gliding 
from his side, Gabriel seized the occasion to escape ; he paused, how- 
ever, midway in the dull lamp-lit kennel, when he saw himself out of 
reach, and then approaching cautiously, said — " I know I am a boy, 
but you have made me man enough to take care of myself. Mr. 
Varney, my uncle, will maintain me— when of age, old Sir Miles has 
provided for me. Leave me in peace — treat me as free ; and I will 
visit you, help you when you want me — obey you still, — yes, follow 
your instructions ; for I know you are" — he paused — " you are wise ; 
nut if you seek again to make me your slave, you will only find 
me your foe. Good night; and remember that a bastard has no 
father!" 

With these words he moved on, and hurrying down the street, 
turned the corner, and vanished. 

Dalibard remamed motionless for some minutes — at length, he 
muttered, " Ay, let him go, he is dangerous ! — What son ever revolted 
even from the worst father, and throve in life ?— Eood for the gibbet ! 
What matters?" 

When next Dalibard visited Lucretia, his manner was changed — 
the cheerfulness he had before assumed gave place to a kind of melan- 
choly compassion ; he no longer entered into her plans for the future, 
but would look at her mournfully, start up, and walk away. She 
would have attributed the change to some return of his ancient 
passion, but she heard him onoe murmur with unspeakable pity, 
'' Poor cliild— poor child ! " A vague apprehension seized her — first, 
ndeed, caught from some remarks dropped by Mr. Fielden, which 
srere less discreet than Dalibard had recommended. A day or two 



B4 LUCKETIA. 

afterwards, she asked Mainwaring, carelessly, "why he had never 
spoken to her at Laughton of his acquaintance with Fielden." 

" You asked me that before," he said, somewhat sulleiuy. 

" Did I ? I forget ! But how was it ? Tell me again." 

"I scarcely know," he replied, confusedly; "we were always 
talking of each other, or poor Sir Miles — our own hopes and 
fears." 

This was true, and a lover's natural excuse. In the present of love 
all the past is forgotten. 

" Still," said Lucretia, with her sidelong glance — " still, as you 
must have seen much of my own sister " 

Mainwaring, while she spoke, was at work on a button on his gaiter 
—(gaiters were then worn tight at the ancle) — the effort brought the 
blood to his forehead. 

" But," he said, still stooping at his occupation, " you were so iitfle 
intimate with your sister, —I feared to offend. Family differences are 
so difficult to approach." 

Lucretia was satisfied at the moment. For so vast was her stake 
in Mainwaring's heart, so did her whole heart and soul grapple to tbs 
rock left serene amidst the deluge, that she habitually and resolutely 
thrust from her mind all the doubts that at times invaded it. 

" I know," she would often say to herself — " I know he does not 
love as I do — but man never can, never ought to love as w r oman ! 
Were I a man, I should scorn myself if I could be so absorbed in one 
emotion as I am proud to be now— I, poor woman! — I know," again 
she would think, — " I know how suspicious and distrustful I am— I 
must not distrust him — I shall only irritate — I may lose him : I dare 
not distrust— it would be too dreadful." 

Thus, as a system vigorously embraced by a determined mind, she 
had schooled and forced herself into reliance on her lover. His words 
now, we say, satisfied her at the moment ; but afterwards, in absence, 
they were recalled, in spite of herself — in the midst of fears, shapeless 
and undefined. Involuntarily she began to examine the countenance, 
the movements, of her sister — to court Susan's society more than she 
had done — for her previous indifference had now deepened into bitter- 
ness. Susan, the neglected and despised, had become her equal — 
nay, more than her equal— Susan's children would have precedence to 
her own in the heritage of Laughton ! Hitherto she had never deigned 
to talk to her in the sweet familiarity of sisters so placed— never 
deigned to confide to her those feelings for her future husband, which 
burned lone and ardent in the close vault of her guarded heart. Now, 
however, she began to name him, wind her arm into Susan's, talk of 
love and home, and the days to come; and as she spoke she read the 
workings of her sister's face. That part of the secret grew clear 
almost at the first glance. Susan loved— loved William Mainwaring ; 
but was it not a love hopeless and unretumed ? Might not this be the 
cause that had made Mainwaring so reserved ? He might have seen, 
or conjectured, a conquest he had not sought ; and hence, with manly 
delicacy, he had avoided naming Susan to Lucretia ; and now, perhaps, 
sought the excuses which at times had chafed and wounded her for 
w<t joining the household circle. If one of those who glance over 



LUCKETIA. S5 

tliese pages chance to be a person more than usually able and acute— 
a person who has loved and been deceived — he or she, no matter 
which, will perhaps recal those first moments when the doubt, long 
put off, insisted to be heard ; a weak and foolish heart gives way to 
the doubt at once, not so the subtler and more powerful ; it rather, on 
the contrary, recals all the little circumstances that justify trust and 
make head against suspicion; it will not render the citadel at the 
mere sound of the trumpet ; it arms all its forces, and bars its gates 
on the foe. Hence it is, that the persons most easy to dupe in matters 
of affection are usually those most astute in the larger affairs of life. 
Moliere, reading every riddle in the vast complexities of human 
character, and clinging, in self-imposed credulity, to his profligate 
wife, is a type of a striking truth. Still, a foreboding, a warning 
instinct withheld Lucretia from plumbing farther into the deeps of 
her own fears. So horrible was the thought that she had ueen 
deceived, that rather than face it, she would have preferred to deceive 
'lerself. This poor bad heart shrunk from inquiry — it trembled at the 
idea of condemnation. She hailed with a sentiment of release, that 
partook of rapture, Susan's abrupt announcement one morning, that 
she had accepted an invitation from some relations of her father, to 
spend some time with them at their villa near Hampstead; she was 
to go the end of the week. Lucretia hailed it, though she saw the 
cause. Susan shrank from the name of Mainwaring on Lucretia's 
lips — shrank from the familiar intercourse so ruthlessly forced on 
her! With a bright eye, that day, Lucretia met her lover; yet she 
would not tell him of Susan's intended departure — she had not the 
courage. 

Dalibard was foiled. Tliis contradiction in Lucretia's temper— so 
suspicious — so determined— puzzled even his penetration. He saw 
that bolder tactics were required. He waylaid Mainwaring on the 
young man's way to his lodgings, and, after talking to him on indiffe- 
rent matters, asked him carelessly, whether he did not think Susan 
far gone in a decline. Affecting not to notice the convulsive start 
with which the question was received, he went on— 

"There is evidently something on her mind — I observe that her 
eyes are often red as with weeping— poor girl !— perhaps some silly 
love affair. However, we shall not see her again before your mar- 
riage ; she is going away in a day or two ; the change of air may 
possibly yet restore her : I own, though, I fear the worst. At this 
lime of the year, and in your climate, such complaints as i take hers 
to be are rapid. Good day. We may meet this evening." 

Terror-stricken at these barbarous words, Mainwaring no sootier 
reached his lodgings than he wrote and despatched a note to Fielden, 
entreating him to call. 

The Vicar obeyed the summons, and found Mainwaring in a state 
of mind bordering on distraction ; nor when Susan was named did 
Fielden's words take the shape of comfort ; for he himself was seri- 
ously alarmed for her health ; the sound of her low cough rang in his 
cars, and he rather heightened than removed the picture which 
haunted Mainwaring — Susan, stricken, dying ; broken-hearted ! 

Tortured both in heart and conscience, Mainwaring felt as if lie liaj 



8o icCSETIA. 

but one wish left in the world — to see Susan once more ! What to 
say, he scarce knew ; but for her to depart — depart, perhaps to her 
grave, believing him coldly indifferent — for her not to know, at least, 
his struggles, and pronounce his pardon, was a thought beyond endur- 
ance. After such an interview both would have new fortitude — each 
would unite in encouraging the other in the ordy step left to honour. 
And this desire he urged upon Kelden with all the eloquence of pas- 
sionate grief, as he entreated him to permit and procure one last con- 
ference with Susan. But this, the plain sense and straightforward 
conscience of the good man long refused. If Mainwaring had been 
left in the position to explain his heart to Lucretia,_it would not have 
been for Fielden to object ; but to have a clandestine interview with 
one sister while betrothed to the other, bore in itself a character too 
equivocal to meet with the simple Yicar's approval. 

"What can you apprehend?" exclaimed the young man, almost 
fiercely— for, harassed and tortured, his mild nature was driven to 
bay. " Can you suppose that I shall encourage my own misery by 
the guilty pleadings of unavailing love ? All that I ask is the luxury 
— yes, the luxury, long unknown to me, of candour — to place fairly 
and manfully before Susan the position in which fate has involved me. 
Can you suppose that we shall not both take comfort and strength 
from each other ? Our duty is plain and obvious ; but it_ grows less 
painful, encouraged by the lips of a companion in suffering. I tell 
you fairly, that see Susan I will and must. I will watch round her 
home wherever it be — hour after hour — come what may, I will find 
my occasion. Is it not better that the interview^ should be under 
your roof, within the same walls which shelter her sister? There, the 
place itself imposes restraint on despair. Oh, sir, this is no time for 
formal scruples — be merciful, I beseech you, not to me, but to Susan. 
I judge of her by myself. I know that I shall go to the altar more 
resigned to the future, if for once I can give vent to what weighs 
upon my heart. She will then see as I do, that the path before me 
is inevitable ; she will compose herself to face the fate that compels 
us. We shall swear tacitly to qach other, not to love, but to conquer 
love. Believe me, sir, I am not selfish in this prayer : an instinct, 
the intuition which human grief has into the secrets of human grief, 
assures me that that which I ask, is the best consolation you can 
afford to Susan. You own she is ill — suffering. Are not your fears for 
her very life — Heaven, for her very life — gravely awakened ? And 
yet you see, we have been silent to each other ! Can speech be more 
fatal in its results than silence ? Oh, for her sake, hear me ! " 

The good man's tears fell fast — his scruples were shaken: there 
was truth in what Mainwaring urged. _ He did not yield ; but he pro- 
mised to reflect, and inform Mainwaring, by a line, in the evening. 
Finding this was all he could_ effect, the young man at last suffered 
him to leave the house, and Fielden hastened to take counsel of Dali- 
bard ; that wity persuader soon reasoned away Mr. Eelden's last 
faint objection— it now only remained to procure Susan's assent to the 
interview, and to arrange that it should be undisturbed. Mr. Fielden 
should take out the children the next morning. Dalibard volunteered 
to contrive the absence of Lucretia at, the hour appointed. Mrs. 



LUCRETIA. 67 

Fielden, alone, should remain within, and might, if it were ludged 
proper, be present at the interview, which was fixed for the forenoon 
in the usual drawing-room. Nothing but Susan's consent was now 
necessary, and Mr. Fielden ascended to her room. He knocked 
twice — no sweet voice bade him enter ; he opened the door gently— 
Susan was in prayer. At the opposite corner of the room, by the side 
of her bed, she knelt, her face buried in her hands, and he heard, low 
and indistinct, the murmur broken by the sob. But gradually, and, 
as he stood unperceived, sob and murmur ceased — prayer had its 
customary and blessed effect with the pure and earnest. And when 
Susan rose, though the tears yet rolled down her cheeks, the face was 
serene as an angel's. 

The pastor approached, and took her hand ; — a blush then broke 
over her countenance — she trembled, and her eyes fell on the ground. 
"My child," he said solemnly, "God will hear you!" And, after 
those words, there was a long silence. He then drew her passively 
towards a seat, and sat down by her, embarrassed how to begin. At 
length, he said, looking somewhat aside, "Mr. Mainwaring has made 
me a request — a prayer which relates to you, and which I refer to 
you. He asks you to grant him an interview, before you leave us — 
to-morrow, if you will. I refused at first — I am in doubt still ; for, 
my dear, I have always found that, when the feelings move us, our 
duty becomes less clear to the human heart — corrupt, we know — but 
still it is often a safer guide than our reason : I never knew reason 
unerring, except in mathematics ; we have no Euclid (and the good 
man smiled mournfully) in the problems of real life ; I will not urge 
you one way or the other — I put the case before you. Would it, as 
the young man says, give you comfort and strength to see him once 
again while, while — in short, before your sister is — 1 mean before — 
that is, would it soothe you now, to have an unreserved communica- 
tion with him? He implores it. What shall I answer ?" 

"This trial, too!" muttered Susan, almost inaudibly — "this trial 
which I once yearned for "—and the hand clasped in Fielden' s was as 
cold as ice ; then, turning her eyes to her guardian somewhat wildly, 
she cried, " But to what end ? what object ? why should he wish to 
see me ? " 

"To take greater courage to do his duty — to feel less unhappy 
at— at " 

" I will see him," interrupted Susan, firmly, " hs is right, it will 
strengthen both — I will see him ! " 

" But human nature is weak, my child ; if my heart be so now, 
what will be yours ? " 

" Fear me not," answered Susan, with a sad, wandering smile ; and 
she repeated vacantly, " I will see him ! " 

The good man looked at her, threw his arms round her wasted 
form and lifting up his eyes, his lips stirred with such half-syllabled 
words as fathers breaths on hish. 



IXCKKTTi 



CHAPTER VII T. 

THE DISCOVP/RY. 



Dalibard had undertaken to get Lucretia from the house ; in fact, 
hor approaching marriage rendered necessary a communication with 
Mr. Parchmount, as executor to her uncle's will, relative to the trans- 
fer of her portion ; and she had asked Dalibard to accompany her 
thither ; for her pride shrank from receiving the lawyer in the shabby 
parlour of the shabby lodging-house ; she therefore, that evening, 
fixed the next day, before noon, for the visit. A carriage was hired 
for the occasion, and, when it drove off, Mr. Pielden took his children 
a, walk to Primrose Hill, and called, as was agreed, on Mainwaring by 
the way. 

The carnage had scarcely rattled fifty yards through the street 
when Dalibard fixed his eyes, with deep and solemn commiseration, 
on Lucretia. Hitherto, with masterly art, he had kept aloof from 
direct explanations with Iris pupil ; he knew that she would distrust 
no one like himself. The plot was now ripened, and it was time for 
the main agent to conduct the catastrophe. The look was so expres ■ 
sive that Lucretia felt a chili at her heart, and could not help ex- 
claiming, " What has happened ? you have some terrible tidings to 
communicate ? " 

" I have indeed to say that which may, perhaps, cause you to hate 
me for ever; as we hate those who report our afflictions. I must 
endure this; I have struggled long between my indignation and my 
compassion. Rouse up your strong mind, and hear me. Mainwaring 
loves your sister ! " 

Lucretia uttered a cry that seemed scarcely to come from a human 
voice— 

" No — no ! " she gasped out, " do not tell me. I will hear no more 
—I will not believe you ! " 

With an inexpressible pity and softness in his tone, this man, whose 
career had given him such profound experience in the frailties of the 
human heart, continued : — " I do not ask you to believe me, Lucre- 
tia ; I would not now speak, if you had not the opportunity to convince 
yourself ; even those with whom you live are false to you ; at this 
moment they have arranged all, for Mainwaring to steal, in your 
absence, to your sister • in a few moments more he will be with her ; 
if you yourself would learn what passes between them, you have the 
power." 

" I have — I have not — not — the courage; drive on — faster — 
faster." 

Dalibard again was foiled. In this strange cowardice there whs 
something so terrible, yet so toucliing, that it became sublime — it v.;w 
'-he gasp of a drowning soul at the last plank. 



J/CCKETIA. 89 

" You are right, perhaps," he said, after a pause ; and wisely 
forbearing all taunt and resistance, he left the heart to its own 
workings. 

Suddenly, Lucretia caught at the check -string— " Stop," she ex- 
claimed — " stop ! I will not, I cannot endure this suspense to last 
through a life ! I will learn the worst. Bid him drive back.' 

" "N'e must descend and walk ; you forget we must enter unsus- 
pected ;" and Dalibard, as the carriage stopped, opened the door, and 
let down the steps. 

Lucretia recoiled, then pressing one hand to her heart, she descended 
without touching the arm held out to her. 

Dalibard bade the coachman wait, and they walked back to the 
house. 

" Yes, he may see her," exclaimed Lucretia, her face brightening. 
" Ah, there yon have not deceived me; I see your stratagem — I de 
spise it: I know she loves him ; she has sought this interview. He 
is so mild and gentle, so fearful to give pain ; he has consented, from 
pity — that is all. Is he not pledged to me ? He, so candid, so inge- 
nuous ! There must be truth somewhere in the world. If he is false, 
where find truth ? Dark man, must I look for it in you ^—you ! " 

" It is not my truth I require you to test ; I pretend not to truth 
universal ; I can be true to one, as yon may yet discover : but I own 
your belief is not impossible ; my interest in you may have made me 
rash and unjust — what you may overhear, far from destroying, may 
confirm for ever your happiness. Would that it may be so ! " 

" It must be so," returned Lucretia, with a fearful gloom on her 
brow and in her accent; "I will interpret every word "to my own 
salvation." 

Dalibard's countenance changed, despite his usual control over it. 
He had set all hb chances upon this cast, and it was more hazardous 
than he had deemed. He had counted too much upon the jealousy of 
common natures. After all, how little to the ear of one resolved to 
deceive herself might pass between these young persons, meeting not 
to avow attachment, but to take courage from each other ! what 
restraint might they impose on their feelings ! Still the game must 
be played out. 

As they now neared the house, Dalibard looked carefully round, 
lest they should encounter Mainwaring on his way to it. He had 
counted on arriving before the young man could get there. 

" But," said Lucretia, breaking silence, with an ironical smile — 
" but (for your tender anxiety for me has, no doubt, provided all 
means and contrivance, all necessary aids to baseness and eaves- 
dropping, that can assure my happiness) how am I to be present at 
this interview ? " 

" I have provided, as yon say," answered Dalibard, in the tone of a 
man deeply hurt, "those means which I, who have found the worid 
one foe and one traitor, deemed the best, to distinguish falsehood from 
truth. I have arranged that we shall enter the house unsuspected. 
Mainwaring and your sister will be in the drawing-room — the room 
next to it will be vacant, as Mr. Fielden is from home ; there is but a 
glass-door between the two chambers." 



DO ivcRtrm.. 

" Enough, enough ! " and Lucretia turned round, and placed het 
hand lightly on the Provencal's arm. " Thfe next hour will decide, 
whether the means you suggest, to learn truth and defend safety, will 
be familiar or loathsome to me for life — will decide whether trust is 
a madness — whether you, my youth's teacher, are the wisest of men, 
or only the most dangerous." 

"Believe me, or not, when I say, I would rather the decision 
jhould condemn me ; for I, too, have need of confidence in men." 

Nothing iiirther was said ; the dull street was quiet and desolate as 
■usual. IJalibard had taken with him the key of the house-door. The 
door opened noiselessly — they were in the house. Mainwaring's cloak 
was in the hall ; he had arrived a few moments before them. Dalibard 
pointed silently to that evidence in favour of his tale. Lucretia 
bowed her head, but with a look that implied defiance : and (still 
without a word) she ascended the stairs, and entered the room 
appointed for concealment. But as she entered, at the further corner 
of the chamber she saw Mrs. Fielden seated — seated, remote, and out 
of hearing. The good-natured woman had yielded to Mainwaring's 
prayer, and Susan's silent look that enforced it, to let their interview 
be unwitnessed. She did not perceive Lucretia till the last walked 
glidingly, but firmly, up to her, placed a burning hand on her lips, 
and whispered — " Hush, betray me not ; my happiness for life — 
Susan's— his — are at stake ! I must hear what passes ; it is my fate 
that is deciding. Hush — I command ! —for I have the right ! " 

Mrs. Fielden was awed and startled ; and before she could recover 
even breath, Lucretia had quitted her side, and taken her post at the 
fatal door. She lifted the corner of the curtain from the glass panel, 
and looked in. 

Mainwaring was seated at a little distance from Susan, whose 
face was turned from her. Mainwaring's countenance was in full 
view. But it was Susan's voice that met her ear ; and though sweet 
and low, it was distinct, and even firm. It was evident from the 
words that the conference had just begun. 

"Indeed, Mr. Mainwaring, you have nothing to explain — nothing 
of which to accuse yourself. It was not, for this, believe me" — and 
here Susan turned her face, and its aspect of heavenly innocence met 
the dry lurid eye of the unseen witness — " not for this, believe me, 
that I consented to see you. If I did so, it was only because I thought 
— because I feared from your manner, when we met at times, still 
more from yonr evident avoidance to meet me at all, that you were 
unhappy (for I know you kind and honest) ; unhappy at the thought 
»!iat you had wounded me, and my heart could not bear that, nor, per. 
haps, my pride either. That you should have forgotten me — — " 

" Forgotten you ! " 

" That you should have been captivated" (continued Susan, in a 
more hurried tone) " by one so superior to me in all things as Lucre- 
tia, is very natural. I thought, then — thought only — that nothing 
could cloud your happiness but some reproach of a conscience too 
sensitive. For this I have met you — met you without a thought 
which Lucretia would have a right to blame, could she read my heart ; 
me*, you (and the voice for the first time faltered), that I might say s 



LTJCKETIA. 91 

' Be at peace : it is your sister that addresses you. ttequite Lucretia'a 
love — it is deep and strong ; give lier as she gives to you — a whole 
heart ; and in your happiness, I, your sister — sister to both — / shall 
be blest.' " With a smile inexpressibly touching and ingenuous, she 
held out her hand as she ceased. Mainwaring sprang forward, and, 
despite her struggle, pressed it to his lips — his heart. 

Oh," he exclaimed, in broken accents, which gradually became 
more clear and loud, " what — what have I lost ! — lost for ever ! No, 
no, I will be worthy of you ! I do not — I dare not say that I love 
you still! I feel what 1 owe to Lucretia. How I became first 
ensnared, infatuated; how, with your image graven so deeply 
here — r " 

"Mainwaring — Mr. Mainwaring — I must not hear you. Is this 
your promise ?" 

"les, you must hear me yet. How I became engaged to your 
sister — so different, indeed, from you — I start in amaze and bewilder- 
ment when I seek to conjecture. But so it was. For me she has 
forfeited fortune, rank— all which that proud, stern heart so prized 
and coveted. Heaven is my witness, how I have struggled to repay 
her affection with my own ; if I cannot succeed, at least, all that faith 
and gratitude can give are hers. Yes ; when I leave you, comforted 
by your forgiveness, your prayers, I shall have strength to tear you 
from my heart — it is my duty — my fate. With a firm step I will go 
to these abhorred nuptials. Oh, shudder not ; turn not away ! For- 
give the word; but Imust speak — my heart will out — yes, abhorred 
nuptials ! Between my grave and the altar, would— would that I had 
a choice !" 

From this burst, which in vain from time to time Susan had sought 
to check, Mainwaring was startled by an apparition which froze his 
veins, as a ghost from the grave. The door was thrown open, and 
Lucretia stood in the aperture— stood, gazing on him, face to face ; 
and her own was so colourless, so rigid, so locked in its livid and 
awful solemnity of aspect, that it was, indeed, as one ristn from the 
dead. 

Dismayed by the abrupt cry, and the changed face of her lover, 
Susan turned and beheld her sister. With the impulse of the pierced 
and loving heart, which divined all the agony inflicted, she sprang to 
Lucretia's side — she fell to the ground, and clasped her knees. 

"Do not heed — do not believe him: it is but the frenzy of a 
moment. He spoke but to deceive me — me, who loved him once ! 
Mine alone — mine is the crime. He knows all your worth; pity — 
pity — pity on yourself, on him, on me ! " 

Lucretia's eyes fell with the glare of a fiend upon the imploring face 
lifted to her own. Her lips moved, but no sound was audible. At 
length she drew herself from her sister's clasp, and walked steadily 
up to Mainwaring. She surveyed him with a calm and cruel gaze, as 
if she enjoyed his shame and terror. Before, however, she spoke, 
Mrs. Fielden, who had watched, as one spell -bound, Lucretia's move- 
ments, and without hearing what had passed, had the full foreboding 
of what would ensue, but had not stirred till Lucretia herself termi- 
nated the suspense, and broke tiie charm of her awe, — before she 



MJCRET1A. 



spoke, Mrs. Fielden rusted in, and giving vent to her agitation in loud 
sobs, as she threw her arms round Susan, who was still kneeling on 
the floor, brought something of grotesque to the more tragic and fear- 
ful character of the scene. 

" My uncle was right ; there is neither courage nor honour in the 
low-born ! He, the schemer, too, is right. All hollow— all false ! " 
Thus said Lucretia, with a strange sort of musing accent, at first 
scornful, at last only quietly abstracted. " Rise, sir," she then added, 
with her most imperious tone ; " do you not hear your Susan weep r 
do you fear in my presence to console her ? Coward to her, as for- 
sworn to me. Go, sir, you are free ! " 

" Hear me," faltered Mainwaring, attempting to seize her hand; 
" I do not ask you to forgive ; but " 

" Forgive, sir ! " interrupted Lucretia, rearing her head, and with 
a look of freezing and unspeakable maiestyj " there is only one person 
here who needs a pardon ; but her fault is inexpiable : it is the woman 
who stooped beneath her ! " 

With these words, hurled_ from her with a scorn which crushed 
while it galled, she mechanically drew round her form her black 
mantle ; her eye glanced on the deep mourning of the garment, and 
her memory recalled all that that love had cost her • but she added 
no other reproach. Slowly she turned away : passing Susan, who 
lay senseless in Mrs. Fielden's arms, she paused, and kissed her 
forehead. 

" When she recovers, madam," she said to Mrs. Fielden, who was 
moved and astonished by this softness, " say that Lucretia Clavering 
uttered a vow, when she kissed the brow of William Mainwaring's 
future wife ! " 

Olivier Dalibard was still seated in the parlour below when Lucretia 
entered. Her face yet retained its almost unearthly rigidity and 
calm ; but a sort of darkness had come over its ashen pallor — that 
shade so indescribable, which is seen in the human face, after long 
illness, a day or two before death. Dalibard was appalled, for he had 
too often seen that hue in the dying not to recognise it now. His 
emotion was sufficiently genuine to give more than usual earnestness 
to his voice and gesture, as he poured out every word that spoke 
sympathy and soothing. For a long time Lucretia did not seem to 
hear him : at last, her face softened — the ice broke. 

" Motherless— friendless— lone — alone for ever — undone — undone ! " 
she murmured. Her head sunk upon the shoulder of her fearful 
counsellor, unconscious of its resting-place, and she burst into tears—' 
tears which, perhaps, saved her reason or her life. 



LUCRETIA. 



CHAPTER IX. 

A SOUL WITHOUT HOPE. 



When Mr. Fielden returned home, Lucretia had quitted the house. 
She left a line for liim in her usual bold, clear handwriting, referring 
him to his wife for explanation of the reasons that forbade a further 
residence beneath his roof. She had removed to an hotel, until she 
had leisure to arrange her plans for the future. In a few montks she 
should be of age ; and, in the meanwhile, who now living claimed 
authority over her ? For the rest, she added, " I repeat what I told 
Mr. Mainwaring, all engagement between us is at an end ; he will not 
insult me either by letter or by visit. It is natural that I should at 
present shrink from seeing Susan Mivers. Hereafter, if permitted, I 
will visit Mrs. Mainwaring." 

Though all had chanced as Mr. Fielden had desired (if, as he once 
half meditated, he had spoken to Lucretia herself), — though a mar- 
riage that could have brought happiness to none, and would have made 
the misery of two, was at an end, he yet felt a bitter pang, almost of 
remorse, wnen he learned what had occurred. And Lucretia, before 
secretly disliked (if any one he could dislike), became dear to him 
at once, by sorrow and compassion. Forgetting every other person, 
he hurried to the hotel Lucretia had chosen ; but her coldness de- 
ceived and her pride repelled him. She listened drily to all he said, 
and merely replied, " I feel only gratitude at my escape. Let this 
subject now close for ever." 

Mr. Fielden left her presence with less anxious and commiserating 
feelings — perhaps all had chanced for the best. And, on returning 
home, his whole mind became absorbed in alarm for Susan. She was deli- 
rious, and in great danger ; it was many weeks before she recovered. 
Meanwhile, Lucretia had removed into private apartments, of which 
she withheld the address. During this time, therefore, they lost sight 
of her. 

If, amidst the punishments with which the sombre imagination 0.1 
poets has diversified the Realm of the tortured Shadows, it had 
depicted some soul condemned to look evermore down into an abyss 
— all change to its gaze forbidden, — chasm upon chasm yawning 
deeper and deeper, darker and darker, endless and infinite ; so that, 
eternally gazing, the soul became, as it were, a part of the abyss, sucb. 
an image would symbol forth the state of Lucretia' s mind. 

It was not the mere desolation of one whom love has abandoned and 
betrayed. In the abyss were mingled inextricably together the gloom 
of thepast and of the future — there, the broken fortunes, the crushed 
ambition, the ruin of the worldly expectations long inseparable from 
her schemes ; and amidst them, the angry shade of the more than father, 
tfhose heart she had wrung, and whose old age she had speeded to 



94 LUCKET1A. 

the grave. These acrifices to love, while love was left to her, might 
have haunted her at moments, but a smile, a word, a glance banished 
the regret and the remorse. Now, love being rased out of life, the 
ruins of all else loomed dismal amidst the darkness ; and a voice rose 
up, whispering, " Lo, fool, what thou hast lost because thou didst 
believe and love ! " And this thought grasped together the two 
worlds of being— the what has been, and the what shall be. All hope 
seemed stricken from the future as a man strikes from the calculations 
of his income the returns from a property irrevocably lost. At her 
age, but few of her sex have parted with religion, but even such 
mechanical faith as the lessons of her childhood, and the constrained 
conformities with Christian ceremonies, had instilled, had long since 
melted away in the hard scholastic scepticism of her fatal tutor— a 
scepticism which had won, with little effort, a reason delighting in 
the maze of doubt, and easily narrowed into the cramped and iron 
logic of disbelief, by an intellect that scorned to submit where it failed 
to comprehend. Nor had faith given place to those large moral truths 
from wnicli philosophy has sought to restore the proud statue _ of 
Pagan Virtue as a substitute for the meek symbol of the Christian 
cross. By temperament unsocial — nor readily moved to the genial 
and benevolent — that absolute egotism in which Olivier Dalibard cen- 
tred his dreary ethics, seemed sanctioned to Lucretia by her studies 
into the motives of man and the history of the world. She had read 
the chronicles of states and the memoirs of statesmen, and seen how 
craft carries on the movements of an age. Those Viscontis, Cas- 
truccios, and Medici — those Bichelieus, and Mazarins and De Retzs 
— those Loyolas, and Mahomets, and Cromwells — those Monks and 
Godolphins — those Marlboroughs and Walpoles — those founders of 
hutory, and dynasties, and sects — those leaders and dupers of men, 
greater or lesser, corrupters or corrupt — all standing out prominent 
and renowned from the guiltless and laurelless obscure — seemed to 
win, by the homage of posterity, the rewards that attend the deceivers 
of their time. By a superb arrogance of generalisation, she trans- 
ferred into private life, and the rule of commonplace actions, the 
policy that, to the abasement of honour, has so often triumphed in the 
guidance of states. Therefore, betimes, the whole frame of society 
was changed to her eye, from the calm aspect it wears to those who 
live united with their kind — she viewed all seemings with suspicion ; 
and before she had entered the world, prepared to live in it as a con- 
spirator in a city convulsed, spying and espied, schemed against 
and scheming — here the crown for the crafty, there the axe for 
the outwitted. 

But her love, for love is trust, had led her half way forth from this 
maze of the intellect. That fair youth of inexperience and candour, 
which seemed to bloom out in the face of her betrothed — his very 
shrinking from the schemes so natural to her, that to her they seemed 
even innocent— his apparent reliance on mere masculine ability, with 
the plain aids of perseverance and honesty — all had an attraction that 
plucked her back from herself. If she clung to him, firmly, blindly, 
credulously, it was not as the lover alone. In the lover, she beheld 
the good angel. Had he ordy died to her — still the angel smile would 



LCCRETIA. 05 

have survived and warned. _ But the man nad not died — the angel 
itself had deceived ; — the wings could uphold her no more— they had 
touched the mire, and were sullied with the soil ; with the stain, was 
forfeited the strength. All was deceit and hollowness and treachery. 
Lone again in the universe, rose the eternal /. So down into the 
abyss she looked, depth upon depth, and the darkness had no relief, 
and the deep had no end. 

Olivier Daiibard alone, of all she knew, was admitted to her seclu- 
sion. He played his part as might be expected from the singular 
patience and penetration which belonged to the genius of his charac- 
ter. He forbore the most distant allusion to his attachment or his 
hopes. He evinced sympathy rather, by imitating her silence, than 
attempts to console. When he spoke, he sought to interest her mind, 
more than to heal directly the deep wounds of her heart. There is 
always, to the afflicted, a certain charm in the depth and bitterness of 
eloquent misanthropy. And Daiibard, who professed not to be a man- 
hater, but a world-scorner, had powers of language and of reasoning 
commensurate with his astute intellect and his profound research. 
His society became not only a relief, it grew almost a want, to that 
stern sorrower. But, whether alarmed or not by the influence she 
felt him gradually acquiring, or whether, through some haughty desire 
to rise once more aloft from the state of her rival and her lover, she 
made one sudden effort to grasp at the rank from which she had been 
hurled. The only living person, whose connection could reopen to 
her the great world, with its splendours and its scope to ambition, 
was Charles Vernon. She scarcely admitted to her own mind the 
idea that she would now accept, if offered, the suit she had before 
despised — she did not even contemplate the renewal of that suit — 
though there was something in the gallant and disinterested character 
of Vernon which should have made her believe he would regard their 
altered fortunes rather as a claim on his honour than a release to his 
engagements. But hitherto no communication had passed between 
them, and this was strange if he retained the same intentions which he 
had announced at Laughton. Putting aside, we say, however, all such 
considerations, Vernon had sought her friendship, called her " cousin," 
enforced the distant relationship between them. Not as lover, but as 
kinsman, the only kinsman of her own rank she possessed — his posi- 
tion in the world, his connections, his brilliant range of acquaintance, 
made his counsel for her future plans, his aid in the re-establishment 
of her consequence (if not as wealthy, still as well-born), and her 
admission avongst her equals, of price and value. It was worth 
sounding the depth of the friendship he had offered, even if his love 
had passed away with the fortune on which doubtless it had been 
based. 

She took a bold step — she wrote to Vernon— not even to allude to 
what had passed between them : her pride forbade such unwomanly 
vulgarity. The baseness that was in her took at least a more delicate 
exterior. She wrote to him simply and distantly, to state that there 
were some books and trifles of hers left at Laughton, whichshe prized 
beyond their trivial value ; and to request, as she believed him to be 
absent from the halfc CJ&i'WUftsion to call at her old home, in her way 



£3 I/BC&ETIA. 

to a visit in a neighbouring county, and point out to whomsoever he 
might appoint to meet her, the effects she deemed herself privileged 
to claim. The letter was one merely of business, but it was a suffi- 
cient test of the friendly feelings of her former suitor. 

She sent this letter to Vernon's house in London, and the next day 
came the answer. 

Vernon, we must own, entirely sympathised with Sir Miles, in the 
solemn injunctions the old man had bequeathed. Immediately after 
the death of one to whom we owe gratitude and love, all his desires 
take a sanctity irresistible and ineffable. We adopt his affection, his 
dislikes, his obligations and his wrongs. And after he had read the 
copy of Lucretia's letter, enclosed to him by Sir Miles, the conquest 
the poor baronet had made over resentment and vindictive emotion, 
the evident effort at passionless justice with which he had provided 
becomingly for his niece, while he cancelled her claims as his heiress, 
had filled Vernon with a reverence for his wishes and decisions, that 
silenced all those inclinations to over-generosity which an unexpected 
inheritance is apt to create towards the less fortunate expectants ; 
nevertheless, Lucretia's direct application, her formal appeal to his 
common courtesy as host and kinsman, perplexed greatly a man ever 
accustomed to a certain chivalry towards the sex ; the usual frank- 
ness of his disposition suggested, however, plain dealing as the best 
escape from his dilemma, and therefore he answered thus : — 

" Madam, — Under other circumstances it would have given me no 
common pleasure to place the house, that you so long inhabited, 
again at your disposal. And I feel so painfully the position which 
my refusal of your request inflicts upon me, that rather than resort to 
excuses and pretexts, which, while conveying an impression of my 
sincerity, would seem almost like an insult to yourself, I venture 
frankly to inform you, that it was the dying wish of my lamented 
kinsman, in consequence of a letter which came under his eye, that 
the welcome you had hitherto received at Laughton should be with- 
drawn. Pardon me, Madam, if I express myself thus bluntly — it is 
somewhat necessary to the vindication of my character in your eyes, 
both as regards the honour of your request and my tacit resignation 
of hopes, fervently, but too presumptuously, entertained. In this 
most painful candour, Heaven forbid that I should add wantonly to 
your self-reproaches for the fault of youth and inexperience, which I 
should be the last person to judge rigidly, and which, had Sir MUes's 
life beea spared, you would doubtless have amply repaired. The 
feelings which actuated Sir Miles in his latter days might have 
changed ; but the injunction those feelings prompted I am bound tc 
respect. 

" For the mere matter of business, on which you have done me the 
honour to address me, I have only to say, that any orders you may give 
to the steward, or transmit through any person you may send to the 
hall, with regard to the effects you so naturally desire to claim, shall 
be implicitly obeyed. 

" And believe me, Madam (though I do not presume to add those 

iressions, wliich might rather heighten the offence I fear this letter 



LUCEET1A. 9? 

will give you), that the assurance of your happiness in the choice you 
have made, and which now no obstacle can oppose, will considerably 
lighten the pain with which I shall long recall my ungracious reply to 
your communication. 

" I have the honour to he. &c. &c. 

" C. Vernon St. John." 

•' Brook Street, Dec. 2Bth, 18—" 

The receipt of such a letter could hardly add to the profounder 
grief which preyed in the innermost core of Lucretia's heart, but in 
repelling the effort she had made to distract that grief by ambition, it 
blackened the sullen despondency with which she regarded the 
future. As the insect in the hollow snare of the ant-lion, she felt 
that there was no footing up the sides of the cave into which she had 
fallen — the sand gave way to the step. But despondency in her, 
brought no meekness — the cloud did not descend in rain ; — resting 
over the horizon, its darkness was tinged with the fires which it fed. 
The heart, already so embittered, was stung and mortified into into- 
lerable shame and wrath. Prom the home that should have been 
hers, in whbh, si vinowledged heiress, she had smiled down on the 
"lined Vernon, sr.e svas banished by him who had supplanted her, as 
one worthless and polluted. Though, from motives of obvious deli- 
cacy, Vernoa had cat said expressly that he had seen the letter to 
Mainwaring, tb.s unfamiliar and formal tone which he assumed, 
indiretly declared it, and betrayed the impression it had made, in 
spite of his reserre. A living man then was in possession of a secret 
which justified his disdain, and that man was master of Laughton! 
The supprest rage which embraced the lost lover, extended darkly 
over this witness to that baffled and miserable love. But what 
availed rage against either? Abandoned and despoiled, she was 
powerless to avenge. It was at this time, when her prospects seemed 
most dark, her pride was most crushed, and her despair of the future 
at its height, that she turned to Dalibard as the only friend left to 
her under the sun. Even the vices she perceived in him became 
merits, for they forbade him to despise her. And now, this man rose 
suddenly into another and higher aspect of character : of late, though 
equally deferential to her, there had been something more lofty in his 
mien, more assured on his brow ; gleams of a secret satisfaction, even 
of a joy, that he appeared anxious to suppress, as ill in harmony with 
her causes for dejection, broke out in his looks and words. At length, 
one day, after some preparatory hesitation, he informed her that he 
was free to return to Trance — that even without the peace between 
England and France, which (known under v,„ aame of the Peace of 
Amiens) had been just concluded, he should have crossed the Channel. 
The advocacy and interest of friends, whom he had left at Paris, had 
already brought him under the special notice of the wonderful mac 
who then governed Prance, and who sought to unite in its servire 
every description and variety of intellect. He should return to 
Prance, and then — why, then, the ladder was on the walls of Portune 
and the foot planted on the step ! As he spoke, confidently and san- 
guinely, with tl\$ verve and assurance of an able man who sees clear 



98 LTTCRETIA. 

the path to nis goal, as he sketched with rapid precision the nature 
of his prospects and his hopes, all that subtle wisdom which had before 
often seemed but vague and general, took practical shape and interest, 
thus applied to the actual circumstances of men; the spirit of in- 
trigue, which seemed mean when employed on mean things, swelled 
into statesmanship and masterly genius to the listener, when she saw 
it linked with the large objects of masculine ambition. Insensibly, 
therefore, her attention became earnest — her mind aroused. The 
vision of a field, afar from the scenes of her humiliation and despair— 
a field for energy, stratagem, and contest — invited her restless mtelli- 
gence. As Dalibard had profoundly calculated, there was no new 
channel for her affections — the source was dried up, and the parched 
sands hea^d over it ; but while the heart lay dormant, the mind 
rose, sleep! •"<?, chafed, and perturbed. Through the mind, he indi- 
rectly addressed and subtly wooed her. 

" Such," he said, as he rose to take leave, " such is the career, to 
which I could depart with joy if I did not depart alone !" 

"Alone!" that word, more than once that day, Lucretia repeated 
to herself — "alone!" — and what career was left to her — she, too, 
alone ! 

In certain stages of great grief, our natures yearn for excitement. 
This has made some men gamblers ; it has made even women drunk- 
ards — it had effect over the serene calm, and would-be divinity of the 
Poet-sage. When his son dies, Goethe does not mourn — he plunges 
into the absorption of a study, uncultivated before. But, in the great 
contest of life, in the whirlpool of actual affairs, the stricken heart 
finds all— the gambling, the inebriation, and the study. 

We pause here. We have pursued long enough that patient 
analysis, with all the food for reflection that it possibly affords, to 
which we were insensibly led on by an interest, dark and fascinating, 
that grew more and more upon us, as we proceeded in our research 
)V:to the early history of a person fated to pervert no ordinary powers 
inl o no commonplace guilt. 

The charm is concluded — the circle closed round — the self-guided 
seeker after knowledge has gained the fiend for the familiar. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE RECONCILIATION BETWEEN FATHER AND SON. 

We pass over an interval of some months. 

A pamter stood at work at the easel ; his human model beiore him. 
He was employed on a nymph— the Nymph Galatea. The subject 
had been taken before by Salvator, whose genius found all its 
elements in the wild rocks, gnarled fantastic trees, and gushing 
waterfalls of the landscape— in the huge ugliness of Polyphemus the 
lover — iu the grace and suavity and unconscious abandonment of ths 



LumtETiA. 99 

nymph, sleeking her tresses dripping from the bath. The painter, on 
a larger canvas (for Salvator's picture, at least the one we have seen, 
is among the small sketches 01 the great artistic creator of the ro- 
mantic and grotesque), had transferred the subject of the master; 
but he had left subordinate the landscape and the giant, to concentrate 
all his art on the person of the Nymph. Middle-aged was the painter, 
in truth; but he looked old. His hair, though long, was grey and 
thin ; his face was bLated by intemperance ; and his hand trembled 
much, < hough from habit no trace of the tremor was visible in his 
work. 

A boy, near at hand, was also employed on the same subject, with a 
rough chalk and a bold freedom of touch. He was sketching his 
design of a Galatea and Polyphemus on the wall ; for the wall was 
only whitewashed, and covered already with the multiform vagaries 
whether of master or pupils ; caricatures and demigods, hands and 
feet, torsos and monsters, and Venuses — the rude creations, all muti- 
lated, jarring, and mingled, gave a cynical, mocking, devil-may-care 
kind ot aspect to the sanctum of art. It was like the dissection-room 
of the anatomist. The boy's sketch was more in harmony with the 
walls of the studio than the canvas of the master. His nymph, 
accurately drawn from the undressed proportions of the model down 
to the waist, terminated in the scales of a fish. The forked branches 
of the trees stretched weird and imp-like as the hands of skeletons. 
Polyphemus, peering over the rocks, nad the leer of a demon ; and in 
his gross features there was a certain distorted, hideous likeness of the 
grave and symmetrical lineaments of Olivier Dahbard. 

All around was slovenly, squalid, and poverty-stricken; rickety, 
worn-out rush-bottom chairs; unsold, unfinished pictures, pell-mell 
in the corner, covered with dust ; broken casts of plaster ; a lay-figure 
battered in its basket-work arms, with its doll-like face, all smudged 
and besmeared ; a pot of porter and a noggin of gin on a stained deal 
table, accompanied: by two or three broken, smoke-blackened pipes, 
some tattered song-books, and old numbers of the Covent Garden 
Magazine, betrayed the tastes of the artist, and accounted for the 
shaking hand and the bloated form. A jovial, disorderly, vagrant dog 
of a painter was Tom Varney ! — a bachelor, of course — humorous and 
droll — a boon companion, and a terrible borrower : clever enough in 
bis calling ; with pains and some method, he had easily gained sub- 
sistence and established a name; but he had one trick that soon 
ruined him in the business part of his profession. He took a fourth 
of his price in advance ; and having once clutched the money, the poor 
customer might go hang for his picture ! The only things Tom Varney 
ever fairly completed were those for which no order had been given ; 
for in them, somehow or other, his fancy became interested, and ou 
them he lavished the gusto which he really possessed. But the sub- 
jects were rarely saleable. Nymphs and deities undraperied have few 
worshippers in England amongst the buyers of " furmture pictures." 
And, to say truth, nymph and deity had usually a very equivocal look : 
and if they came from the gods, you would swear it was the gods of 
the galleries of Drury. When Tom Varney sold a picture, he lived 
npon clover till the money was gone. But the poorer and less steady 



1(}0 LI7CRETIA. 

alumni of the rising school, espbtially those at war with the Academy 
from which Varney was excluded, pitied despised, yet liked and 
courted him withal. In addition to his good qualities of blithe song- 
singer, droll story-teller, and stanch Bacchanalian, Tom Varney was 
liberally good-natured in communicating instruction really valuable to 
those who knew how to avail themselves of a knowledge ne had made 
almost worthless to himself. He was a shrewd, though good-natured 
critic, had many little secrets of colouring and composition,_which 
an invitation to supper, or the loan of ten shillings, was sufficient to 
bribe from him. Ragged, out of elbows, unshaven, and slipshod, he 
still had his set, amongst the gay and the young — a precious master, 
a profitable set, for his nephew, Master flonore Gabriel ! _ But the 
poor rapscallion had a heart larger than many honest painstaking 
men. As soon as Gabriel had found him out, and entreated_ refuge 
from his fear of his father, the painter clasped him tight in his great 
slovenly arms, sold a Venus half -price, to buy him a bed and a wash- 
stand, and swore a tremendous oath, " that the spn of his poor guil- 
lotined sister should share the last shilling in his pocket — the last 
drop in his can." 

Gabriel, fresh from the cheer of Laughton, and spoiled by the 
prodigal gifts of Lucretia, had little gratitude for shillings and porter. 
Nevertheless, he condescended to take what he could get, while he 
sighed, from the depths of a heart in which cupidity and vanity had 
become the predominant rulers, for a destiny more worthy his genius, 
and more in keeping with the sphere from which he had descended. 

The boy finished his sketch, with an impudent wink at the model, 
flung himself back on his chair, folded his arms, cast a discontented 
glance at the whitened seams of the sleeves, and soon seemed lost in 
his own reflections. The painter worked on in silence. The model, 
whom Gabriel's wink had aroused, half-flattered, half-indignant for a 
moment, lapsed into a doze. Outside the window, you heard the 
song of a canary — a dingy, smoke-coloured canary — that seemed 
shedding its plumes, for they were as ragged as the garments of its 
master ; still it contrived to sing — trill-trill-trill-trill-trill, as blithely 
as if free in its native woods, or pampered by fair hands in a 
gilded cage. The bird was the only true artist there ; it sang, as the 
poet sings, to obey its nature and vent its heart. Trill-trill-triilela-la- 
Ia-trill-trill, went the song — louder, gayer than usual — for there was 
a gleam of April sunshine struggling over the roof-tops. The song at 
length roused up Gabriel ; he turned his chair round, laid his head on 
one side, listened, and looked curiously at the bird. 

At length, an idea seemed to cross him : he rose, opened the window, 
drew in the cage, placed it on the chair, then took up one of his uncle's 
pipes, walked to the fire-place, and thrust the shank of the pipe into 
the bars. When it was red-hot, he took it out by the bowl, having 
first protected his hand from the heat by wrapping round it his hand- 
kerchief ; this done, he returned to the cage. His movements had 
wakened up the dozing model. She eyed them at first with dull 
curiosity, then with lively suspicion ; and presently starting up with 
an exclamation, such as no novelist but Fielding dare put into the 
mouth of a female — much less a nymph of such renown as Galatea— 



LUUKETIA. ]0l 

she sprang across the room, well-nigh upsetting easel and painter, and 
fastened firm hold on Gabriel's shoulders. 

" The varment ! " she cried, vehemently ; " the good-for-nothing 
varment ! If it had been a jay, or a nasty raven, well and good !— but 
a poor little canary ! " 

" Hoity-toity ! what are you about, nephew ? What's the matter ! 
said Tom Yarney, coming up to the strife. And, indeed, it was tim 
for Gabriel's teeth were set in his cat-like jaws, and the glowing point 
of the pipe-shank was within an inch of the cheek of the model. 

"What's the matter?" replied Gabriel, suddenly; "why, I was 
oiuv going to try a little experiment." 

''An experiment? not on my canary, poor dear little thing !— the 
hours and nours that creature has strained its throat to say — ' sing 
and be merry,' when I had not a rap in my pocket ! It would have 
made a stone feel to hear it." 

"But I think I can make it sing much better than ever — only 
just let me try ! They say that if you put out the eyes of a canary, 

it " Gabriel was not allowed to conclude his sentence ; for here 

rose that clamour of horror and indignation, from both painter and 
model, which usually greets the announcement of every philosophical 
discovery — at least, when about to be practically applied ; and m the 
midst of the hubbub, the poor little canary, who had been fluttering 
about the cage to escape the hand of the benevolent operator, set up 
no longer the cheerful trill — trillela-la-trill, but a scared and. heart- 
breaking chirp — a shrill, terrified twit-twit-twitter-twit. 

"Damn the bird! — hold your tongues!" cried Gabriel Varney, 
reluctantly giving way ; but still eyeing the bird with the scientific 
regret with which the illustrious Majendie might contemplate a dog 
which some brute of a master refused to disembowel for the good of 
the colics of mankind. 

The model seized on the cage, shut the door of the wires, and 
carried it off. Tom Varney drained the rest of his porter, and wiped 
his forehead with the sleeve of his coat. 

And to use my pipe for such cruelty ! Boy, boy, I could not have 
believed it ! But you were not in earnest — oh, no, impossible ! 
Sukey, my love — Galatea, the divine — calm thy breast ; Cupid did but 
jest : 

' Cupid is the God of Laughter, 
Quip, and jest, and joke, sir.' " 

" If you don't whip the little wretch within an inch of his life, he 
have a gallows end on't," replied Galatea. 
" Go, Cupid, go and kiss Galatea, and make your peace : 

' Oh, leave a kiss within the cup, 
And I'll not ask for wine !' 

And 'tis no use asking for wine, or for gin either — not a drop in the 
nogain!" 

All this while, Gabriel, disdaining the recommendations held forth 
to him, was employed in brushing his jacket with a very inangy- 
iooking brush •• and when, he had completed thai operation he 



i02 LTTCRETIA. 

approached his uncle, and coolly thrust his hands into that gentleman's 
waistcoat-pockets. 

" Uncle, what have you done with those seven shillings ? I am 
going out to spend the day." 

" If you give them to him, Tom, I'll scratch your eyes out," cried 
the model ; " and then we'll see how you'll sing. Whip him, I say 
—whip him ! " 

But, strange to say, this liherty cf the boy's quite re-opened the 
heart of Ids uncle — it was a pleasure to him, who put his hands so 
habitually into other people's pockets, to be invested with the novel 
grandeur of the man sponged upon. " That's right, Cupid, son of 
Cytherea ; all's common property amongst friends. Seven shillings, 
I have 'em not ! ' They now are five who once were seven ;' but 
such as they are, we'll share 

* Let old Timotheus yield the prize, 
Or both divide the crown.' " 

" Crowns bear no division, my uncle," said Gabriel, drily — and he 
pocketed the five shillings. Then, having first secured his escape, by 
gaining the threshold, he suddenly seized one of the rickety chairs 
by its leg, and regardless of the gallantries due to the sex, sent it 
right against the model, who was shaking her fist at him. A scream, 
and a fall, and a sharp twit from the cage, which was hurled nearly 
into the fire-place, told that the missive had taken effect. Gabriel 
did not wait for the probable re-action ; he was in the streets in an 
instant. 

" This won't do," he muttered to himself ; " there is no getting 
on here. Foolish drunken vagabond ! no good to be got from him. 
My father is terrible, _ but he will make his way in the world. 
Umph ! if I were but his match — and why not ? I am brave, and he 
is not. There's fun, too, in danger." 

Thus musing, he took his way to Dalibard's lodgings. His 
father was at home. In ow, though they were but lodgings, and the 
street not in fashion, Olivier Dalibard's apartments had an air of 
refinement, and even elegance, that contrasted both the wretched 
squalor of the abode Gabriel had just left, and the meanness of Dali- 
bard's former quarters in London. The change seemed to imply 
that the Provencal had already made some way in the world. Ana, 
truth to say, at all times, even in the lowest ebb of his fortunes, 
there was that indescribable neatness and formality of precision about 
all the exterior seemings of the ci-devant friend of the prim Robes- 
pierre which belong to those in whom order and method are strongly 
developed — qualities whict give even to neediness a certain dignity. 
As the room and its owner met the eye of Gabriel, on whose senses 
all externals had considerable influence, the ungrateful young ruffian 
recalled the kind, tattered, slovenly uncle, whose purse he had just 
emptied, without one feeling milder than disgust. Olivier Dalibard, 
always careful, if simple, in his dress, with his brow of grave intel- 
lectual power, and Ms mien imposing, not only from its calm, but 
from that nameless refinement which rarely fails to give to tta 



LTJCHETlA. 103 

ittudent the air of a gentleman — Olivier Dalibard he might (head 
* -he might even detest ; but he was not ashamed of him. 

" I said I would visit you, sir, if you would permit me," said 
Gabriel, in a tone of respect, not unmingied with some defiance, as if 
in doubt of his reception. 

The father's slow full eye, so different from the sidelong furtive 
glance of Lucretia, rested on the son, as if to penetrate his very 
heart. 

" You look pale and haggard, child : you are fast losing your 
health and beauty . # Good gifts these, not to be wasted before they 
can be duly employed. But you have taken y,*mr choice. Be an 
artist — copy Tom Varney, and prosper." 

Gabriel remained silent, with his eyes on the floor. 

" You come in time for my farewell," resumed Dalibard. " It is 
a comfort, at least, that I leave your youth so honourably protected. 
I am about to return to my country — my career is once more before 



me 



: Your country — to Paris?" 

" There are fine pictures in the Louvre — a good place to inspire 
an artist!" 

" You go alone, father ! " 

" You forget, young gentleman, you disown me as father ! Go 
alone ! I thought I told you in the times of our confidence, that 1 
should marry Lucretia Clavering. I rarely fail in my plans. She 
has lost Laughton, it is true, but ten thousand pounds will make a 
fair commencement to fortune, even at Paris. Well, what do you 
want with me, worthy godson of Honore Gabriel Mirabeau ? " 

" Sir, if you will let me, I will go with you." 

Dalibard shaded his brow with his hand, and reflected on the filial 
proposal. On the one hand, it might be convenient, and would cer- 
tainly be economical to rid himself evermore of the mutinous son 
who "had already thrown off his authority ; on the other hand, there 
was much in Gabriel, mutinous and even menacing as he had lately 
become, that promised an unscrupulous tool or a sharp-witted accom- 
plice, with interests that every year the ready youth would more and 
more discover were bound up in his plotting father's. This last con- 
sideration, joined, if not to_ affection, still to habit — to the link 
between blood and blood, which even the hardest find it difficult to 
sever, prevailed. He extended his pale hand to Gabriel, and said, 
gently — 

"I will take you, if we rightly understand each other._ Once 
again in my power, I might constrain you to my will, it is True. 
But I rather confer with you as man to man than as man to boy." 

" It is the best way," said Gabriel, firmly. 

" I will use no harshness — inflict no punishment, unless, indeed, 
amply merited by stubborn disobedience or wilful deceit. But if I 
meet with these, better rot on a dunghill than come with me ! I ask 
implicit confidence in all my suggestions, prompt submission to all 
my requests. Grant me but these, and I promise to consult your 
fortune as my own— to gratify your tastes as far as my means will 
allow— to grudge not your pleasures ; and, when the age for ambition 



104 ZiUURJSTlA. 

comes, to aid your rise if T rise myself ; nay, if 'well contented with 
you, to remove tlie blot from your birth, by acknowledging and 
adopting you formally as my son." 

" Agreed ! and I thank you," said Gabriel. " And Lucretia is 
going ; oh, I so long to see ner ! " 

" See her — not yet ; but next week." 

" llo not fear that I should let out about the letter. I should 
betray myself if I did," said the boy, bluntly betraying his guess at 
his father's delay. 

The evil scholar smiled. 

" You will do well to keep it secret for your own sake ; for mine, I 
should not fear. Gabriel, go back now to your master — you do right, 
like the rats, to run from the falling house. Next week, I will send 
for you, Gabriel ! " 

Not, however, back to the studio went the boy. He sauntered 
leisurely through the gayest streets, eyed the shops, and the equipages, 
the fair women, and the well-dressed men — eyed with envy, and long- 
ings, and visions of pomps, and vanities to come; then, when the day 
began to close, he sought out a young painter, the wildest and 
maddest of the crew to whom his uncle had presented their future 
comrade and rival, and went with this youth, at half-price, to the 
theatre, not to gaze on the actors or study the play, but to stroll 
in the saloon. A supper in the Finish completed the void in his 
pockets, and concluded his day's rank experience of life. By the grey 
dawn he stole back to his bed, and as he laid himself down, he thought 
with avid pleasure of Paris, its gay gardens, and brilliant shops, and 
crowded streets; he thought, too, of his father's calm confidence of 
success, of the triumph that already had attended his wiles — a confi- 
dence and a triumph which, exciting his reverence and rousing his 
emulation, had decided his resolution. He thought, too, of Lucretia, 
with something of affection, recalled her praises and bribes, her 
frequent mediation with his father, and felt that they should have 
need of each other. Oh, no, he never would tell her of the snare 
laid at Guy's Oak — never, not even if incensed with his father ! An 
instinct told him that that offence could never be forgiven, and that, 
henceforth, Lucretia's was a destiny bound up in his own. He 
thought, too, of Dalibard's warning and threat. But, with fear itself, 
came a strange excitement of pleasure — to grapple, if necessary, h6 
a mere child, with such a man ! — his heart swelled at! the thought. 
So, at last he fell asleep, and dreamed that he saw his mother's trunk- 
less face drippinggore, and frowning on him — dreamed thathe heardher 
say : " Goest thou to the scene of my execution only to fawn upon my 
murderer?" Then a night-mare of horrors, of scaffolds, and execu- 
tioners, and grinning mobs, and agonised faces, came on him — dark, 
confused and indisthict. And he woke, with his hair standing on end, 
and heard below, in the rising sun, the merry song of the poor canary 
-trill lill-lill, trm-triU-lill-lill-la ! Did he feel glad that his cruel 
hand had been stayed. 



UJCRKTIA. 



EHLOGUE TO PART THE FIRST. 

It is a year since the November day on which Lucrctia Clavering 
ouitti'd tlie roof of Mr. Fielden. And first we must recall the eye oi 
tlie reader to the old-fashioned terrace at Laughton ; the jutting 
porch, the quaint balustrades, the broad, dark, changeless cedars on 
the lawn beyond. The day is calm, clear, and mild, for November in 
the country is often a gentle month. On that terrace walked Charles 
Vernon, now known by his new name of St. John. Is it the change 
of name that has so changed the person? Can the wand of the 
Herald's Office have filled up the hollows of the cheek, and replaced 
by elastic vigour the listless languor of tlie tread ? No : there is 
another and a better cause for that healthful change. Mr. Vernon 
St. John is not alone — a fair companion leans on his arm. See, she 
pauses to press closer to his side, gaze on his face, and whisper, " We 
did well to have hope and faith ! " 

The husband's faith had not been so unshaken as his Mary's, and a 
slight blush passed over his cheek as he thought of his concession to 
Sir Miles's wishes, and his overtures to Lucretia Clavering. Still 
that fault had been fairly acknowledged to his wife, and she felt, the 
moment she had spoken, that she had committed an indiscretion- 
nevertheless, with an arch touch of womanly malice, she added 
softly, — 

" And Miss Clavering, you persist in saying, was not really hand- 
some ? " 

" My love," replied the husband, gravely, " you would oblige me 
by not recalling the very painful recollections connected with that 
name. Let it never be mentioned in this house." 

Lady Mary bowed her graceful head in submission — she understood 
Charles's feelings. For though he had not shown her Sir Miles's 
letter and its enclosure, he had communicated enough to account for 
the unexpected heritage, and to lessen his wife's compassion for the 
disappointed heiress. Nevertheless, she comprehended that her hus- 
band felt an uneasy twinge at the idea that he was compelled to act 
hardly to the one whose hopes he had supplanted. Lucretia's banish- 
ment from Laughton was a just humiliation, but it humbled a gene- 
rous heart to inflict the sentence. Thus, on all accounts, the remem- 
brance of Lucretia was painful and unwelcome to the successor of 
Sir Miles. There was a silence — Lady Mary pressed her husband's 
hand. 

" It is strange," said he, giving vent to his thoughts at that tender 
sign of sympathy in his feeling — " strange that, after all, she did not 
marry Muinwaring, but fixed Tier choice on that supple Frenchman. 
But she has settled abroad now, perhaps for life — a great relief to 
my mind. Yes, let us never recur to her." 

" Fortunately," said Lady Mary, with some hesitation, " she doc* 



}M LTJCK.ET1A. 

not seem to have created much interest here. The poor seldom name 
her to me, and oar neighbours only with surprise at her marriage. In 
another year she will be forgotten ! " 

Mr. St. John sighed. Perhaps he felt how much more easily he had 
been forgotten, were he the banished one, Lucretia the possessor ! His 
light nature, however, soon es?aped from all thoughts and sources of 
annoyance, and he listened with complacent attention to Lady Mary's 
gentle plans for the poor, and the children's school, and the cottages 
that ought to be repaired, and the labourers that, ought to be 
employed. For, though it may seem singular, Vernon St. John, 
insensibly influenced by his wife's meek superiority, and corrected by 
her pure companionship, had begun to feel the charm of innocent 
occupations ; — more, perhaps, than if he had been accustomed to the 
larger and loftier excitements of life, and missed that stir of intellect 
which is the element of those who have warred in the democracy of 
letters, or contended for the leadership of states. He had begun 
already to think that the country was no such exUe after all. Natu- 
rally benevolent, he had taught himself to share the occupations his 
Mary had already found in the busy " luxury of doing good," and to 
conceive that brotherhood of charity which usually unites the lord of 
the village with its poor. 

"I think, what with hunting once a week — (I will not venture 
more till my pain in the side is quite gone), — and with the help of 
some old friends at Christmas, we can get through the winter very 
well, Mary." 

" Ah, those old friends ! I dread them more the hunting ! " 

" But we'll have your grave father, and your dear, precise, excellent 
mother, to keep us in order. And if 1 sit more than half an hour 
after dinner, the old butler shall pull me out by the ears. Mary, what 
do you say to thinning the grove yonder ? We shall get a better 
view of the landscape beyond. No, hang it ! dear old Sir Miles loved 
his trees better than the prospect — 1 won't lop a bough. But that 
avenue we are planting will be certainly a noble improvement " 

" Fifty years hence, Charles ! " 

" It is our duty to think of posterity," answered the ci-devant 
spendthrift, with a gravity that was actually pompous. " But hark ! 
is that two o'clock ? Three, by Jove ! How time flies ! and my new 
bullocks that I was to see at two ! Come down to the farm, that's 
my own Mary. Ah, your fine ladies are not such bad housewives 
alter aU ! " 

" And your fine gentlemen " 

" Capital farmers ! I had no idea till last week that a prize ox was 
so interesting an animal. One lives to learn. Put me in mind, by 
the bye, to write to Coke about his sheep." 

" This way, dear Charles ; we can go round by the village, and see 
poor Ponto and Dash.*' 

The tears rushed to Mr. St. John's eyes. "If poor Sir Miles could 
have known you!" he said, with a sigh; and though the gardeners 
were at work on the lawn, he bowed his head, and kissed the blushing 
cheek of his wife as heartily as if he had been really a farmer. 

From the terrace at Laughton, turn to the humbler abode of our 



LtJCRETIA. 107 

old friend the Vicar—the same day, the same hour. Here also the 
scene is without doors — we are in the garden of the vicarage ; the 
children are playing at liide-and-seek amongst the espaliers, which 
■screen the winding gravel-walks from the esculents more dear to 
Ceres than to Flora. The yicar is seated in his little parlour, from 
which a glazed door admits into the garden. The door is now open, 
and the good man has paused from his work (he had just discovered 
a new emendation in the first chorus of the Medea), to look out at the 
rosy faces that gleam to and fro across the scene. His wife, with a 
basket in her hand, is standing without the door, but a little aside, 
not to obstruct the view. 

"It does one's heart good to see them!" said the Vicar; "little 
dears,!" 

" Yes, they ought to be dear at this time of the year," observed 
Mrs. Fielden, who was absorbed in the contents of the basket. 

"And so fresh!" 

" Fresh, indeed ; — how different from London ! In London they 
were not fit to be seen ; as old as — I am sure I can't guess how old 
they were. But you see here they are new laid every morning ! " 

' My dear !" said Mr. Fielden, opening his eyes — "new laid every 
morning ! " 

" Two dozen and four." 

" Two dozen and four ! — What on earth are you talking about. Mrs. 
Fielden?" 

"Why, the eggs, to be sure, my love !" 

" Oh !" said the Vicar, "two dozen and four ! — you alarmed me a 
little ; 'tis of no consequence — only my foolish mistake. Always pru- 
dent and saving ; my dear Sarah ; just as if poor Sir Miles had not 
left us that munificent fortune, I may call it." 

"It will not go very far when we have our young ones to settle. 
And — David is very extravagant already : he has torn such a hole in 
his jacket ! " 

At this moment, up the gravel-walk, two young persons came in 
sight. The children darted across them, whooping and laughing, and 
vanished in the further recess of the garden. 

" All is for the best — blind mortals that we are !— all is for the 
best !" said the Vicar, musingly, as his eyes rested upon the approach- 
ing pair. 

"Certainly, my love; you are always right, and it is wicktd to 
grumble. Still, if you saw what a hole it was — past patching, 1 
fear!" 

"Look round!" said Mr. Fielden, benevolently. "How we 
grieved for them both : how wroth we were with William — how sad 
for Susan! And now see them — they will be the better man and wife 
for their trial ! " 

" Has Susan then consented ? I was almost afraid she never would 
consent. How often have I been almost angry with her, poor lamb ! 
when I have heard her accuse herself of causing her sister's unhappi- 
ness, and declare with sobs that she felt it a crime to think of William 
Mainwaring as a husband." 

" I trust I have reasoned her out of a morbid sensibility, which 



108 LTJClUmA. 

while it could not have rendered Lucretia the happier, must have 
ensured the wretchedness of herself and William. But if Lucretia 
had not, married, and so for ever closed the door on William's repent- 
ance (that is, supposing he did repent) 1 believe poor Susan would 
rather have died of a broken heart, than have given her hand !c 
Mainwaring." 

" It was an odd marriage of that proud young lady s, alter alJ, ' 
said M is. bidden ; " so much older than her— a foreigner, too ! " 

"But he is a very pleasant man, and they had known each other so 
long, i did not, however, quite like a sort of cunning he showed, 
when I came to reflect on it, in bringing Lucretia back to the house ; 
it looks as if he had laid a trap for her from the first." 

"Ten thousand pounds !— a great catch for a foreigner!" observed 
Mrs. Fielden, with the shrewd instinct of her sex; and then sne 
added, in the spirit of a prudent sympathy equally characteristic: 
"But I think you say Mr. Parchmount persuaded her to allow half to 
be settled on herself! That will be a hold on him." 

"A bad hold, if that be all, Sarah. There is a better— he is a 
learned man, and a scholar. Scholars are naturally domestic, and 
make good husbands." 

" But you know he must be a papist ! " said Mrs. Fielden. 

" Umpli ! " muttered the Vicar, irresolutely. 

While the worthy couple were thus conversing, Susan and hei 
lover, not having finished their conference, had turned back through 
the winding walk. 

" Indeed," said William, drawing her arm closer to his side, " these 
scruples — these fears— are cruel to me as well as to yourself. If you 
were no longer existing, I could be nothing to your sister. Nay, even 
were she not married, you must know enough of her pride to be 
assured that I can retain no place in her affections. What has 
chanced was not our crime. Perhaps Heaven designed to save 
not only us, but herself, from the certain misery of nuptials so 
inauspicious ! " 

" If she would but answer one of my letters ! " sighed Susan; " or 
if I could but know that she were happy and contented ! " 

" Your letters must have miscarried — you are not sure even of her 
address. Rely upon it, she is happy. Do you think that she would a 
second time ' have stooped beneath her ' "— Mainwaring's lip writhed 
as he repeated that phrase, — " if her feelings had not been involved P 
I would not wrong your sister, — I shall ever feel gratitude for the 
past, and remorse for my own shameful weakness ; still, I musl 
think that the nature of her attachment to me was more ardent than 
lasting." 

" Ah, William ! how nan you know her heart ? " 

" By comparing it with yours. Oh, ther.e, indeed, I may anchor my 
faith ! Susan, we were formed for each other ! Our natures are 
alike — save that yours, despite its surpassing sweetness, has greater 
strength in its simple candour. You will be my guide to good 
Without you I should have no aim in Lie, — no courage to front th( 
contests of this world. Ah, this hand trembles still ! " 

" William, William, I cannot repress a foreboding— a superstition * 



LOCREtlA. 109 

it tup,ht, I am haunted with that pale face, as 1 saw it last— pale with 
suppressed despair. Oh, if ever Lucretia could have neecf of us— 
need of our services, our affections,— if we could but repair the giief 
we have caused licr ! " 

Susan's nead sank on her lover's shoulder. She had said " need 
of us"— " r.ced of our services." In those simple monosyllables the 
union was pledged— the identity of their lots in the dark urn was 
implied. 

Prom this scene turn again, — the slide shifts in the lantern — we are 
at Paris. In the ante-chamber at the Tuileries, a crowd of expectant 
courtiers and adventurers gaze upon a figure who passes with modest 
and downcast eyes through the throng ; he has just left the closet of 
the First Consul. 

" Par Dieu ! " said B -, " power, like misery, makes us acquainted 

with strange bedfellows. I should like to hear what the First Consul 
can have to say to Olivier Dalibard." 

Fouchi, who at that period was scheming for the return to his old 
dignities as minister of police, smiled slightly, and answered, " In a 
time when the air is filled with daggers, one who was familiar with 
Robespierre has his uses. Olivier Dalibard is a remarkable man. He 
is one of those children of the Revolution whom that great mother is 
bound to save." 

" By betraying his brethren ? " said B ■, drily. 

" I do not allow the inference. The simple fact is, that Dalibard 
has spent many years in England, — he has married an Englishwoman 
of birth and connexions, — he knows well the English language and 
English people,— and just now, when the First Consul is so anxious 
to approfondir the popular feelings of that strange nation, with whose 
.government he is compelled to go to war, he may naturally have much 
to say to so acute an observer as Olivier Dalibard." 

" Um ! " said B ; " with such patronage, Robespierre's friend 

should hold his head somewhat higher ! " 

Meanwhile, Olivier Dalibard, crossing the gardens of the palace, 
took" his way to the i aubourg St. Germain. There was no change in 
the aspect of this man ; the same meditative tranquillity characterised 
his downward eyes and bended brow ; the same precise simplicity of 
dress which had pleased the prim taste of Robespierre, gave decorum 
to his slender stooping form. No expression more cheerful, no foot- 
step more elastic, bespoke the exile's return to his native land, or 
the sanguine expectations of Intellect restored to a career. Yet, to 
all appearance, the prospects of Dalibard were bright and promising. 
The h irst Consul was at that stage of his greatness, when he sought 
to employ in his service all such talent as the Revolution had made 
manifest — provided only, that it was not stained with notorious blood- 
shed, or too strongly associated with the Jacobin clubs. Ills quick 
eye seemed to have discovered already the abilities of Dalibard, and 
to have appreciated the sagacity and knowledge of men which had 
enabled this subtle person to obtain the friendship of Robespierre, 
without sharing in his crimes. He had been frequently closeted with 
Buonaparte ; he was in the declared favoui of Fouche, who, though 
not at that period at the head of the police, was too necessary amidst 



110 LUCJRBTIA. 

the dangers of the time, deepened as they were by the rumoure of 
gome terrible and profound conspiracy, to be laid aside, as the Eirst 
Consul had at one moment designed. One man alone, of those high 
in the State, appeared to distrust Olivier Dalibard— the celebrated 
Cambaceres. But with his aid the Provencal could dispense. What 
was the secret of Dalibard's power? was it, in truth, owing solely to 
his native talent, and his acquired experience, especially of England ? 
— was it by honourable means that he had won the ear of the First 
Consul ? We may be sure of the contrary; for it is a striking attri- 
bute of men once thoroughly tainted by the indulgence of vicious 
schemes and stratagems, that they become wholly blinded to those 
plain paths of ambition which common sense makes manifest to ordi- 
nary ability. If we regard narrowly the lives of great criminals, we 
are often very much startled by the extraordinary acuteness,— the 
profound calculation,— the pauent meditative energy which they have 
employed upon the conception and execution of a crime. We feel 
inclined to think that such intellectual power would have commanded 
great distinction, worthily used and guided ; but we never find that 
these great criminals seem to have been sensible of the opportunities 
to real eminence which they have thrown away. Often we observe 
that there have been before them vistas into worldly greatness which, 
by no uncommon prudence and exertion, would have conducted honest 
men half as clever to fame and power ■ but, with a strange obliquity 
of vision, they appear to have looked from these broad clear avenues 
into some dark, tangled defile, in which, by the subtlest ingenuity, 
and through the most besetting perils, they might attain at last to the 
success of a fraud, or the enjoyment of a vice. In crime once in- 
dulged, there is a wonderful fascination — and the fascination is, not 
rarely, great in proportion to the intellect of the criminal. There is 
always hope of reform for a dull, uneducated, stolid man, led by 
accident or temptation into guilt ; but where a man of great ability, 
and highly educated, besots himself in the intoxication of dark and 
terrible excitements, takes impure delight in tortuous and slimy ways, 
the good angel abandons him for ever. 

Olivier Dalibard walked musingly on — gained a house in one of the 
most desolate quarters of the abandoned faubourg, mounted the 
spacious stairs, and rang at the door of an attic next the roof. 
After some moments, the door was slowly and cautiously opened; 
and two smaD fierce eyes, peering through a mass of black tan- 
gled curls, gleamed through the aperture. The gaze seemed satis- 
factory. 

" Enter, friend," said the inmate, with a sort of complacent grunt ; 
and, as Dalibard obeyed, the man reclosed, and barred the door. 

The room was bare to beggary, — the ceiling, low and sloping, was 
olackened with smoke. A wretched bed, two chairs, a table, a strong 
chest, a small cracked looking-glass, completed the inventory. The 
dress of the occupier was not in keeping with the chamber ; — true 
that it was not such as was worn by the wealthier classes, but it be- 
tokened no sign of poverty. A blue coat, with high collar, and half 
of military fashion, was buttoned tight over a chest of vast girth ; 
the nether garments were of leather, scrupulously clean, and solid, 



LUCRETIA 111 

heavy riding-boots came halfway up the thigh. A more sturdy, stalwart 
strong-built knave, never excited the admiration which physical powei 
always has a right to command : and Dalibard gazed on him with envy 
The pale scholar absolutely sighed as he thought — what an auxiliary 
to his own scheming mind would have been so tough a frame ! 

But even less in iorm than face did the man of thews and sinews 
contrast the man of wile and craft. Opposite that high forehead, with 
its masMve development of organs, scowled the low front of one to 
whom thought was unfamiliar— protuberant, indeed, over the shaggy 
brows, where phrenologists place the seats of practical perception— 
stronsly marked in some of the brutes, as in the dog — but almost 
literally void of those higher organs, by which we reason, and imagine, 
and construct. But in rich atonement for such deficiency, all the 
animal reigned triumphant in the immense mass and width of the 
skull behind. And as the hair, long before, curled in close rings to 
the nape of the bull-like neck, you saw before you one of those usefui 
instruments to ambition and fraud, which recoil at no danger, com- 
prehend no crime, are not without certain good qualities, under vir- 
tuous guidance, — for they have the fidekty, the obedience, the stubborn 
courage of the animal ; but which, under evil control, turn those very 
qualities to unsparing evil — bull-dogs to rend the foe, as bull-dogs tc 
defend the master. 

For some moments the two men gazed silently at each other. At 
length Dalibard said, with an air of calm superiority — 

" My friend, it is time that I should be presented to the chiefs ot 
your party ! " 

" Clriefs, par tons les diables ! " growled the other ; " we Chouans 
are all chiefs, when it comes to blows. You have seen my cre- 
dentials : you know that I am a man to be'trusted ; what more do 
you need ? " 

" Tor myself nothing ; but my friends are more scrupulous. I have 
sounded, as I promised, the heads of the old Jacobin party — and they 
are favourable. This upstart soldier, who has suddeidy seized in his 
iron grasp all the fruits of the Revolution, is as hateful to them as to 
you. But, que voulez-vous, mon cher — men are men ! It is one thing 
to destroy Buonaparte ; it is another thing to restore the Bourbons. 
How can the Jacobin chiefs depend on your assurance, or my own, 
that the Bourbons will forget the old offences, and reward the new 
service ? You apprise me, so do your credentials, that a prince of the 
blood is engaged in this enterprise, that he will appear at the proper 
season. Put me in direct communication with this representative of 
the Bourbons, and I promise in return, if his assurances are satisfac- 
tory, that you shall have an emeuteto be felt from Paris to Marseilles. 
If you cannot do this, I am useless ; and I withdraw " 

" W itlidraw ! Garde a vous — Monsieur le Savant ! No man with- 
draws abve from a conspiracy like ours." 

W e have said before that Olivier Dalibard was not physically 
brave ; and the look of the Chouan, as those words were said, would 
have frozen the blood of many a bolder man. But the habitual 
hypocrisy of Dalibard enabled him to disguise his fp«vr, and he replied, 



112 UJCBETJA. 

" Monsieur le Chouan, — it is not by threats that you will gain ad- 
herents to a desperate cause, which, on the contrary, requires mild 
words and flattering inducements. If you commit a violence — a 
murder — mon cher — Paris is not Bretagne ; we have a police ; you 
will be discovered." 

" Ha, ha ! what then ? — do you think I fear the guillotine ? " 

" .For yourself — no ; but for your leaders — yes ! If you are disco- 
vered, and arrested for crime, do you fancy that the police will not 
recognise the right arm of the terrible George Cadoudal? — that they 
will not guess that Cadoudal is at Paris ? — that Cadoudal will not 
accompany you to the guillotine ?_" 

The Chouan 's face fell. Olivier watched him and pursued Ids 
advantage. 

" I asked you to introduce to me this shadow of a prince, under 
which you would march to a counter-revolution. Bat I will be more 
easily contented. Present me to George Cadoudal, the hero of Mor- 
bihan ; he is a man in whom I can trust, and with whom I can deal. 
Wliat ! — you hesitate ? — How do you suppose enterp v ises of this 
nature can be carried on ? If, from fear and distrust of each other, 
the man you would employ cannot meet the chief who directs him, 
there will be delay — confusion — panic, — and you will all perish by the 
executioner. And for me, Pierre Guillot, consider my position. I am 
in some favour with the First Consul — I have a station of respectabi- 
lity — a career lies before me. Can you think that I will hazard 
these, with my head to boot, like a rash child ? Do you suppose that, 
in entering into this terrible contest, I would consent to treat only 
with subordinates ? Do not deceive yourself. Again, I say, tell 
your employers that they must confer with me directly, or je m'eti lave 
ks mains'' 

" I will repeat what you say," answered Guillot, sullenly. " Is this 
alii"' 

" All for the present," said Dalibard, slowly drawing on his gloves, 
and retreating towards the door. The Chouan watched him with a 
suspicious and sinister eye ; and as the Provencal's hand was on the 
latch, he laid his own rough grasp on Dalibard's shoulder — 

" 1 know not how it is, Monsieur Dalibard, but I mistrust you." 

" Distrust is natural and prudent to all who conspire," replied 
the scholar, quietly. "I do not ask you to confide in me — your 
employers bade you seek me — I have mentioned my conditions — let 
them decide." 

" You carry it off well, Monsieur Dalibard. And I am under a 
solemn oath, which poor George made me take, knowing me to be a 
hot-headed, honest fellow- —mauvaise tete, if yo* will — that I will keep 
my hand off pistol and knife upon mere suspicion — that nothing less 
than his word, or than clear and positive proof of treachery, shall put 
me out of good humour and into warm blood. But bear this with 
you, Monsieur Dalibard, if I once discover that you use our secrets 
to betrav them,— should George see you, and one hair of his neaa 
come to injury through your hands, I will wring your neck as a house- 
wife ^wrings a pullet's." 

" I don't doubt your strength or your ferocity, Pierre Guillot ; but 



locohtu 113 

my neck will be safe ; you wave enough to do to take care cf your 
own — au rcn/ir." 

With u (one and look of calm and fearless irony, the scholar thus 
spoke and left the room ; but when he was on the stairs, he paused, 
and cauirht at the balustrade— the sickness as of terror at some 
danger past, or to be, came over him ; and this contrast between the 
self-command, or simulation which belongs to moral courage, and the 
feebleness of natural and constitutional cowardice, would have been 
sublime if shown in a noble cause. In one so corrupt, it but betrayed 
a nature doubly formidable; for treachery and murder hatch their 
brood amidst the folds of a hypocrite's cowardice. 

While thus the interview between Dalibard and the conspirator, — 
we must bestow a glance upon the Provencal's home. 

In an apartment in one of the principal streets between the Boule- 
vards and the Hue St. Honore, a boy and a woman sat side by side, 
conversing in whispers. The boy was Gabriel Varney, the woman 
Lucre tia Dalibard. The apartment was furnished in the then mo- 
dern taste which affected classical forms ; and though not without 
a certain elegance, had something meagre and comfortless in its 
splendid tripods and thin-legged chairs. There was in the apartment' 
that air which bespeaks the struggle for appearances— that struggle 
familiar with those of limited income, and vai n aspirings ; who want the 
taste which smoothes all inequalities, and gives a smile to home — that 
taste which affection seems to piompt, if not to create — which shows 
itself in a thousand nameless, costless trifles, each a grace. No sign 
was there of the household cares or industry of women. _ No flowers, 
no music, no embroidery-frame, no work-table. Lucretia had none of 
the sweet feminine habits which betray so lovelily the whereabout of 
women. All was formal and precise, like rooms which we enter and 
leave — not those in which we settle and dwell. 

Lucretia herself is changed, her air is more assured, ner complexion 
more pule, the evil character of her mouth more firm and pronounced. 

Gabriel, still a mere boy in years, has a premature look of man. 
The down shades his lips. His dress, though showy and theatrical, is 
no longer that of boyhood. His rounded cheek has grown thin, as 
with the care and thought which beset the anxious step of youth on 
entering into life. 

Both, as before remarked, spoke in whispers ; — both from time to 
time glanced fearfully at the door; both felt that they belonged to a 
hearth round which smile not the jocund graces of trust and love, and 
the heart's open ease. 

"But," said Gabriel — "but if you would be safe, my father must 
have no secrets hid from you." 

" I do not know that he has. He speaks to me frankly of his hopes 
— of the share he has in the discovery of the plot against the First 
Consul— of his interviews with Pierre Guillot, the Breton." 

" Ah, because there your courage supports him, and your acuteness 
assists his own. Such secrets belong to his public life — his political 
schemes— with those he will trust you. It is his private life— hk 
private projects you must know." 

" But what does he conceal from me ? Apart from politics, bis 



j.14 LTJCBJSTIA. 

whole mind seems bent on the very natural object of securing the 
intimacy with his rich cousin, Monsieur Bellanger, from whom he 
has a right to expect sc large an inheritance." 

" Bellanger is rich, but he is not much older than my father." 

"He has kid health." 

" No," said Gabriel, with a downcast eye and a strange smile — " he 
has not bad health, but he may not be long-lived." 

" How do you mean ? " asked Lucretia, sinking her voice into a 
still lower whisper, while a shudder, she scarce knew why, passed 
over her frame. 

" What does my father do," resumed Gabriel, " in that room at the 
top of the house F Does he tell you that secret ?" 

" He makes experiments in chemistry. You know that that was 
always his favourite study. You smile again ! Gabriel, do not smile so; 
it appals me. Do you think there is some mystery in that chamber ?" 
It matters not what we think, belle mere — it matters much what 
we know. If I were you, I toould know what is in that chamber. I 
repeat, to be safe, you must have all his secrets or none. Hush, that 
is his step !" 

' The door-handle turned noiselessly, and Olivier entered. His look 
fell on his son's face, which betrayed only aprarent surprise at his unex- 
pected return. He then glanced at Lucrecia's, which was, as usual, 
cold and impenetrable. 

" Gabriel," said Dalibard, gently, " I have come in for you. I have 
promised to take you to spend the day at Monsieur Bellanger's: 
you are a great favourite with Madame. Come, my boy._ I shall 
be back soon, Lucretia. I shall but drop in to leave Gabriel at my 
cousin's." 

Gabriel rose cheerfully, as if only alive to the expectation of the 
bon-bons and compliments he received habitually from Madame 
Bellanger. 

" And you can take your drawing implements with you," continued 
Dalibard. " This good Monsieur Bellanger has given you permission 
to copy his Poussin." 

" His Poussin ! Ah, that is placed in his bedroom,* is it not ?" 

" Yes," answered Dalibard, briefly. 

Gabriel lifted his sharp bright eyes to his father's face. Dalibard 
turned away. 

" Come !" he said, with some impatience ; and the boy took up his 
hat. 

In another minute Lucretia was alone. 

Alone, in an English home, is a word implying no dreary solitude 
to an accomplished woman ; but alone in that foreign land — alone in 
those half-furnished, desolate apartments — few books, no musical 
instruments, no companions during the day to drop in ; — that lone- 
liness was wearying. And that mind so morbidly active ! In the old 
Scottish legend, the Spirit that serves the wizard must be kept con- 
stantly employed ; suspend its work for a moment, and it rends the 

* It is scarcely necessary to observe that bed-chambers in Paris, when forming 
part of the suite of reception-rooms, are often decorated no less elaborately than 
the other apartments. 



115 

enchanter. 11 is so with minds that crave for excitement, and live 
without relief of heart and affection, on the hard tasks of the 
intellect. 

Lucrctia mused over Gabriel's words aud warning : "To be safe, 
vou must know all his secrets or none." What was the secret whicli 
Dalibard had not communicated to her? 

She rose, stole up the cold, cheerless stairs, and ascended to the 
attic which Dalibard had lately hired. It was locked; and she 
observed that the lock was small— so smal'., that the key might be 
worn in a ring. She descended and entered her husband's usual 
cabinet, whicli adjoined the sitting-room. All the books which the 
house contained were there ; a few works on metaphysics— Spinosa in 
especial— the great Italian histories, some volumes of statistics, many 
on physical and mechanical philosophy, and one or two works of 
biography and memoirs : — No light literature, that grace and flower 
of human culture— that best philosophy of all, humanising us with 
gentle art, making us wise through the humours, elevated through 
the passions, tender in the affections of our kind ! She took out one 
of the volumes that seemed less arid than the rest, for she was weary 
of her own thoughts, and began to read. _ To her surprise, the first 
passage she opened was singularly interesting, though the title was 
nothing more seductive than the " Life of a Physician of Padua, in 
the Sixteenth Century." It related to that singular epoch of terror 
in Italy, when some mysterious disease, varying in a thousand symp- 
toms, baffled all remedy, and long defied all conjecture — a disease 
attacking chiefly the neads of families, father and husband — rarely 
women. In one city, seven hundred husbands perished, but not one 
wife ! The disease was poison. The hero of the memoir was one of 
the earlier discoverers of the true cause of this household epidemic. 
He had been a chief authority in a commission of inquiry. Startling 
were the details given in xhe work ; the anecdotes, the histories, the 
astonishing craft brought daily to bear on the victim, the wondrous 
perfidy of the subtle means, the variation of the certain murder — here 
swift as epilepsy — there slow and wasting as long decline: — the 
lecture was absorbing ; and absorbed in the book Lucretia still was, 
when she heard Dalibard' s voice behind; he was looking over her 
shoulder. 

" A strange selection for so fair a student ? Enfant, play not with 
such weapons !" 

" But is this all true?" 

" True, though scarce a fragment of the truth. The physician was 
a sorry chemist, and a worse philosopher. He blundered in his 
analysis of the means; and, if I remember rightly, he whines like a 
priest at the motives; for see you not what was really the cause of 
tlris spreading pestilence. I f was the Saturnalia of the Weak — a 
burst of mocking license agains.. the Strong : it was more — it was the 
innate force of the individual waging war against the many." 

" I do not understand yor ." 

" No ! In that age, husbands were, indeed, lords of the household : 
they married mere children for their landsj they neglected and 
betrayed them ; they were Jiexorahle if the wile committed the faults 



116 ITTCREIIA. 

Bet before her for exami le. Suddenly the wife found herself armed 
against her tyrant. His life was in her hands. So the weak had no 
mercy on the strong ! But man, too, was then, even more than now, 
a lonely wrestler in a crowded arena. Brute force alone gave him 
distinction in courts j wealth alone brought him justice in the halls, 
or gave him safety m his home. Suddenly, the frail puny man saw 
that he could reach the mortal part of his giant foe. The noiseless 
sling was in his hand— it smote Goliath from afar. Suddenly, the 
poor man ground to the dust, spat upon by contempt, saw through 
the crowd of richer kinsmen, who shunned and bade him rot— saw 
those whose death made him heir to lordship, and gold, and palaces, 
and power, and esteem ! As a worm through a wardrobe, that man 
ate through velvet and ermine, and gnawed out the hearts that beat 
in his way. No ! A great intellect can comprehend these criminals 
and account for the crime. It is a mighty thing to feel in one's neli 
that one is an army— more than an army! What thousands nno 
millions of men, with trumpet and banner, and under the sanctlor oi 
glory, strive to do— destroy a foe, that, with little more than ar 
effort of the will— with a drop, a grain, for all his arsenal— one mar 

cat do!" • i -i i_ 

There was a horrible enthusiasm about this reasoning devil a? h< 
spoke thus ; his crest rose, his breast expanded. ^ That animal ioi 
wliich a noble thought gives to generous hearts, kirsd ' I z. ha fac^ o, 
the apologist for the darkest and basest of human crimes. Lucretif 
shuddered ; but her gloomy imagination was spelled ; there was ai 
interest mingled with her terror. 

" Hush ! you appal me," she said, at last, timidly. " But, happily 
this fearful art exists no more to tempt and destroy ?" 

" As a mere philosophical discovery, it might be amusing to < 
chemist to learn exactly what were the compoundsof those ancksri 
poisons," said Dalibard, not directly answering the implied question 
"Portions of the art are indeed lost, unless, as I suspect, there ii 
much credulous exaggeration in the accounts transmitted to us. Tc 
kill by a flower, a pair of gloves, a soap-ball— kill by means whicl 
elude all possible suspicion— is it credible? What say you? Ai 
amusing research, indeed, if one had leisure! But enough of thi 

now ; it grows late. We dine with Monsieur de , He wishes ti 

let his hotel. Why, Lucretia, if we knew a little of this old art, pat 
Dieu! we could soon hire the hotel! Well, well, perhaps we ma; 
survive my cousin Jean Bellanger !" 

Three days afterwards, Lucretia stood by her husband's side in thi 
secret chamber. From the hour when she left it, a change was per 
ceptible in her countenance, which gradually removed from it thi 
character of youth. Paler the cheek could scarce become, nor mon 
cold the discontented, restless eye. But it was as if some great can 
had settled on her brow, and contracted yet more the stern outline o 
the lips. Gabriel noted the alteration ; but he did not attempt to wi] 
her confidence. He was occupied rather in considering, first, if l 
were well for him to sound deeper into the mystery he suspected 
and, secondly, to what extent, and on what terms, it became hi 



LTTCKETIA. 117 

interest to aid the designs in which, by Dalibard's hints and kindly 
treatment, lie foresaw that he was meant to participate. 

A word now on the rich kinsman of the Dalibards : Jean Bellanger 
jad been one of those prudent republicans who had put the Revolution 
to profit. By birth a Marseillais,— he had settled in Paris, as an 
epicier, about the year 1785, and had distinguished himself by the 
adapt ability and finesse which become those who fish in such troubled 
waters, lie had sided with Mirabeau, next with Vergniaud, and the 
Girondins. These he forsook in time for Danton, whose facile cor- 
ruptibility made him a seductive patron. He was a large purchaser 
in the sale of the emigrant property; he obtained a contract for the 
supply of the army in the Netherlands ; he abandoned Danton as he 
had abandoned the Girondins, but without taking any active part in 
the after-proceedings of the Jacobins. His next connexion was with 
Tallien and Barras, and he enriched himself yet more under the 
Directory than he had done in the earlier stages of the Revolution. 
Under cover of an appearance of bonhomie and good humour, a 
frank laugh and open countenance, Jean Bellanger had always 
retained general popularity and goodwill; and was one of those 
whom the policy of the First Consul led him to conciliate. He had 
long since retired from the more vulgar departments of trade, but 
continued to flourish as an army contractor. He had a large hotel 
and a splendid establishment. He was one of the great capitalists 
of Paris. The relationship between Dalibard and Bellanger was 
not very close, it was that of cousins twice removed; and during 
Dalibard's previous residence at Paris, each embracing different 
parties, and each eager in his career, the blood-tie between them 
had not been much thought of, though they were good friends, 
and each respected the other for the discretion with which he had 
kept aloof from the more sanguinary excesses of the time. As 
Bellanger was not many years older than Dalibard, as the former 
had but just married in the year 1791, and had naturally before 
him the prospect of a family — as his fortunes at that time, though 
rising, were unconfirmed, and as some nearer relations stood between 
them, in the shape of two promising sturdy nephews, Dalibard had 
not then calculated on any inheritance from his cousin. On his 
return circumstances were widely altered — Bellanger had been mar- 
ried some years, and no issue had blessed his nuptials. His 
nephews, draughted into the conscription, had perished in Egypt. 
Dalibard apparently became his nearest relative. 
^ To avarice or to worldly ambition, there was undoubtedly some- 
thing very dazzling in the prospect thus opened to the eyes of Olivier 
Dalibard. The Contractor's splendid mode of living, vying with that 
of the fermier-general of old, the colossal masses of capital, by which 
he backed and supported speculations, that varied with an ingenuity 
rendered practical and profound by experience, inflamed into fever 
the morbid restlebsness of fancy and intellect which characterised 
the evil scholar. For that restlessness seemed to supply to his 
nature, xiccs not constitutional to it. Dalibard had not the avarice 
that belongs either to a miser or t. spendthrift. In his youth, his 



i IS LWCKET1A. 

books and the simple desires of an abstract student sufficed to Ma 
wants, and a habit of method and order, a mechanical calculation 
which accompanied all his acts, from the least to the greatest- 
preserved him, even when most poor, from neediness and want. Nor 
was he by nature vain and ostentatious— those infirmities accom- 
pany a larger and more luxuriant nature. His philosophy rather 
despised, than inclined to, show. Yet since to plot and to scheme 
made his sole amusement, his absorbing excitement,— so a man 
wrapped in himself, and with no generous ends in view, has little to 
plot or to scheme for, but objects of worldly aggrandisement. In 
this, Dalibard resembled one wiiom the intoxication of gambling has 
mastered, who neither wants, nor greatly prizes, the stake, but who 
has grown wedded to the venture for it. It was a madness like 
that of a certain rich nobleman in our own country, who, with 
more money than he could spend, and with a skill in all games 
where skill' enters, that would have secured him success of itself, 
— having learned the art of cheating, could not resist its indul- 
gence. No hazard, no warning, could restrain him— cheat he must 
— the propensity became iron-strong as a Greek destiny. 

That the possible chance of an inheritance so magnificent should 
dazzle Lucreiia and Gabriel, was yet more natural; for in them, it 
appealed to more direct and eloquent, though not more powerful, 
propensities. Gabriel had every vice which the greed of gain most 
irritates and excites. Intense covetousness lay at the core of his 
heart ; he had the sensual temperament which yearns for every enjoy- 
ment, and takes pleasure in every pomp and show of life. _ Lucretia, 
with a hardness of mind that disdained luxury, and a certain grandeur 
(if such a word may be applied to one so perverted), that was incom- 
patible with the sordid infirmities of the miser, had a determined and 
msatiable ambition, to which gold was a necessary instrument. 
Wedded to one she loved, like Mainwaring, the ambition, as we 
have said in a former chapter, could have lived in another, and 
become devoted to intellectual efforts, in the nobler desire for 
power based on fame and genius. But now she had the gloomy 
cravings of one fallen, and the uneasy desire to restore herself to 
a lost position — she fed as an aliment upon scorn to bitterness, 
of all beings and all things around her. She was gnawed _ by that 
false fever which riots in those who seek by outward seemings and 
distinctions to console themselves for the want of their own self- 
esteem ; or who, despising the world with which they are brought in 
contact, sigh for those worldly advantages, which alone justify to the 
world itself their contempt. _ 

To these diseased infirmities of vanity or pride, whether exhibited 
in Gabriel or Lucretia, Dalibard administered without apparent 
effort, not only by his conversation, but his habits of lite'. He 
mixed with those much wealthier than himself, but not better born 
— those who, in the hot and fierce ferment of that new society, were 
rising fast into new aristocracy, — the fortunate soldiers, daring specula- 
tors, plunderers of many an argosy that had been wrecked in the Great 
Storm. Every one about them was actuated by the keen desire " to 
make a fortune" — the desire was contagious. They were not abso- 



LUCRETIA. 1.13 

»utely po)r in (lie proper sense of the word poverty, with Dalibard's 
annuity and (lie interest, of Lucretia's fortune, but they were poor 
compared to those with whom they associated— poor enough for dis- 
content. Thus, the image of the mighty wealth from which, perhaps, 
but a single life divided them, became horribly haunting. To 
Gabriel's sensual vision, the image presented itself in the shape of 
unlimited pleasure and prodigal riot ; to Lucretia, it wore the solemn 
majesty of power : to Dalibard himself, it was but the Eureka of a 
calculation— the palpable reward of wile, and scheme, and dexterous 
combinations. The devil had temptations suited to each. Mean- 
while, the Dalibards were more and more with the Bellangers. 
Olivier glided in to talk of the chances and changes of the state and 
the market. Lucretia sat for hours, listening mutely to the Con- 
tractor's boasts of past frauds, or submitting to the martyrdom of his 
victorious games at tric-trac. Gabriel, a spoiled darling, copied the 
pictures on the walls, complimented Madame, nattered Monsieur, 
and fawned on both for trinkets and crowns. Like three birds of 
night and omen, these three evil natures settled on the rich man's 
roof. 

"Was the rich man himself blind to the motives which budded forth 
into such attentive affection ? His penetration was too acute — his ill 
opinion of mankind too strong, perhaps, for such amiable self-delu- 
sions. But he took all in good part ; availed himself of Dalibard's 
hints and suggestions as to the employment of his capital ; was polite 
to Lucretia, and readily condemned her to be beaten at tric : trac, while 
he accepted with bonhomie Gabriel's spirited copies_ of his pictures. 
But at times, there was a gleam of satire and malice in his round 
grey eyes, and an inward chuckle at the caresses and flatteries he 
received, which perplexed Dalibard, and humbled Lucretia. Had 
his wealth been wholly at his own disposal, these signs would have 
been inauspicious, but the new law was strict, and the bulk of Bel- 
linger's property could not be alienated from his nearest kin. Was 
not Dalibard the nearest ? 

These hopes and speculations did not, as we have seen, absorb the 
restless and rank energies of Dabbard's crooked, but capacious and 
grasping intellect. Patiently and ingeniously he pursued his main 
political object — the detection of that audacious and complicated con- 
spiracy against the First Consul, which ended in the tragic deaths of 
Pichegru, the Due d'Enghien, and the erring but illustrious hero 
of La Vendee, George Cadoudal. In the midst of these dark plots 
for personal aggrandisement and political fortune, we leave, for the 

moment, the sombre, sullen soul of Olivier Dalibard. 

****** 

Time has passed on, and Spring is over the world ; the seeds, 
liuried in the earth, burst to nower; but man's breast knoweth not 
t he sweet division of the seasons. In winter or summer, autumn or 
?prin^ alike, his thoughts sow the germs of his actions, and day after 
day his destiny gathers in her harvests. 

The joy-bells nng clear through the groves of Laughton — an heir is 
born to the old name and fair lands of St. John ! And, as usual, the 
present race welcomes merrily in, that which shall succeed and replace 



1 20 LUCRET1A. 

it — thai which shall thrust the enjoyers down into the black graves, 
and wrest from them the pleasant goods of the world. The joy -hell 
of birth is a note of warning to the knell for the dead; it wakes the 
worms beneath the mould : the new-born, every year that it grows 
and flourishes, speeds the Parent to their feast. Yet who can predict 
! hat the infant shall become the heir ? — who can tell that Death sits 
Aot side by side with the nurse at the cradle ? Can the mother's hand 
measure out the woof of the Parcse, or the father's eye detect, 
through the darkness of the morrow, the gleam of the fatal shear" ? 

It is market-day, at a town in the midland districts of England. 
There, Trade takes its healthiest and most animated form. You see 
not the stunted form and hollow eye of the mechanic — poor slave of 
the capitalist — poor agent and victim of the arch disequaliser — Civili- 
sation. There, strides the burly form of the farmer ; there, waits the 
ruddy hind with his flock ; there, patient, sits the miller with his 
samples of corn ; there, in the booths, gleam the humble wares which 
form the luxuries of cottage and farm. Thethronging of men, and the 
clacking of whips, and the dull sound of wagon or dray, that parts the 
crowd as it passes, and the lowing of herds and the bleating of sheep, 
all are sounds of movement and bustle, vet blend with the pastoral 
associations of the Primitive Commerce, when the link between market 
and farm was visible and direct. 

Towards one large house in the centre of the brisk life ebbing on, 
you might see stream after stream pour its way. The large doors 
swinging light on their hinges, the gilt letters that shine above the 
threshold, the windows, with their shutters outside cased in iron and 
studded with nails, announce that that house is the Bank of the town. 
Come hi with that yeoman whose broad face tells its tale, sheepish 
and down-eyed — he has come not to invest, but to borrow. What 
matters, war is breaking out anew, to bring the time of high prices, 
and paper money and credit. Honest yeoman, you will not be refused. 
He scratches his rough head, pulls a leg, as he calls it, when the clerk 
leans over the counter, and asks to see " Muster Mawnering hisself." 
The clerk points to the little office-room of the new junior partner, 
who has brought ten thousand pounds and a clear head to the firm. 
And the yeoman's great boots creak heavily in. I told you so, honest 
yeoman ; you come out with a smile on your brown face, and your 
hand, that^ might fell an ox, buttons up your huge breeches-pocket. 
You will rideTiome with a light heart — go and dine, and be merry. 

The yeoman tramps to the Ordinary ; plates clatter, tongues wag , 
and the borrower's full heart finds vent hi a good word for that kind 
"Muster Mawnering." For a wonder, all join in the praise. "He's 
an honour to the town ; he's a pride to the country — thof he's such a 
friend at a pinch, he's a rale mon of business ! He'll make the baunk 
worth a million ! — and how well he spoke at the great county meeting 
about the war, and the laund, and them blood-thirsty Monnseers ! If 
their members were loike him, Muster Pox would look small ! " 

The day declines ; the town empties — whiskies, horses, and carts, 
are giving life to the roads and the lanes— and the market is deserted, 
;uid the bank is shut up, and William Mainwaring walks back to his 
home at the skirts of the town— not villa nor cottage — that plain 



1TTCTIETIA. 131 

English house with its cheerful face of red brick, and its solid square- 
ness of shape — a symbol of substance in the fortunes of the owner ! 
Yet, as he passes, he sees through the distant trees the hall of the 
member for the town. He pauses a moment, and sighs unquietly. 
That pause and that sigh betray the germ of ambition and discontent. 
"Why should not he, who can speak so well, be member for the town, 
instead of that stammering squire ? But his reason has soon silenced 
the querulous murmur. He hastens his step— he is at home ! And 
there, in the neat furnished drawing-room, which looks on the garden 
behind, hisses the welcoming tea-urn; and the piano is open, and 
there is a packet of new books on the table : and, best of all, there is 
the glad face of the sweet English wife. The happy scene was 
characteristic of the time, just when the simpler and more innocent 
luxuries of the higher class spread, not to spoil, but refine the middle. 
The dress, air, mien, movements of the young couple ; the unassuming, 
suppressed, sober elegance of the house; the flower-garden, the 
books, and the music, evidences of cultivated taste, not signals of 
display, all bespoke the gentle fusion of ranks, before rude and unedu- 
cated wealth, made in looms and lucky hits, rushed in to separate for 
ever the gentleman from the parvenu. 

Spring smiles over Paris, over the spires of Notre Dame, and the 
crowdea alleys of the Tuileries, over thousands and thousands eager, 
joyous, aspiring, reckless — the New Eace of France — bound to one 
man's destiny, children of glory and of carnage, whose blood, the wolf 
and the vulture scent, hungry, from afar ! 

The conspiracy against the life of the First Consul has been detected 
and defeated. Picnegru is in prison, George Cadoudal awaits his 
trial, the Due d'Enghien sleeps in his bloody grave ; the imperial 
crown is prepared for the great soldier, and the great soldier's 
creatures bask in the noon-day sun. Olivier Dalibard is in high 
and lucrative employment : his rise is ascribed to his talents — his 
opinions. No service connected with the detection of the conspiracy 
is traced or traceable by the public eye. If such exist, it is known 
but to those who have no desire to reveal it. The old apartments 
are retained : but they are no longer dreary, and comfortless, and 
deserted. They are gay with draperies, and or-molu, and mirrors; 
and Madame Dalibard has her nights of reception, and Monsieur 
Dalibard has already his troops of clients. In that gigantic concentra- 
tion of egotism, which^under Napoleon, is called The State, Dalibard 
has found his place. He has served to swell the power of the unit, 
and the cipher gains importance by its position in the sum. 

Jean Bellanger is no more. He died, not suddenly, and yet of some 
quick disease — nervous exhaustion : his schemes, they said, had worn 
liim out. But the state of Dalibard, though prosperous, is not that of 
the heir to the dead millionnaire. What mistake is this ? The bulk of 
that wealth must go to the nearest kin— so runs the law. But the 
will is read ; and, for the first time, Olivier Dalibard learns that the 
dead man had a son— a son by a former marriage — the marriage unde- 
clared, unknown, amidst the riot of the Revolution ; for the wife 
was the daughter of a proscrit. The son had been reared at a dis- 
tance, put to school at Lyons, and unavowed to the second wife, who 



122 LUCEET1A. 

had brought an ample dower, and whom that discovery might have 
deterred from the altar. Unacknowledged through life — in death, at 
least, the son's rights are proclaimed : and Olivier Dalibard feels that 
Jean Bellanger has died in vain ! For days has the pale Provencal 
been closeted with lawyers ; but there is no hope in litigation. The 
proofs of the marriage, the birth, the identity, come out clear and 
clearer ; and the beardless schoolboy at Lyons r p ;.ps all the profit of 
those nameless schemes and that mysterious death. Olivier Dalibard 
desires the friendship — the intimacy of the heir. But the heir is con- 
signed to the guardianship of a merchant at Lyons, near of kin to his 
mother — and the guardian responds but coldly to Olivier's letters. 
Suddenly the defeated aspirant seems reconciled to Ms loss. The 
widow Bellanger has her own separate fortune; and it is large, 
beyond expectation. In addition to the wealth she brought the 
deceased, his affection had led him to invest vast sums in her name. 
The widow then is rich — rich as the heir himself. She is still fair. 
Poor woman, she needs consolation ! But, meanwhilej the nights of 
Olivier Dalibard are disturbed and broken. His eye, in the daytime, 
is haggard and anxious ; he is seldom seen on foot in the streets. 
Pear is his companion by day, and sits at night on his pillow. The 
Chouan, Pierre Guillot, who looked to George Cadoudal as a god, knows 
that George Cadoudal has been betrayed, and suspects Olivier Dali- 
bard ; and the Chouan has an arm of iron and a heart steeled against 
all mercy. Oh, how the pale scholar thirsted for that Chouan 's blood ! 
With what relentless pertinacity, with what ingenious research he 
had set all the hounds of the police upon the track of that single 
man ! How notably he had failed ! An avenger lived ; and Olivier 
Dalibard started at his own shadow on the wall. But he did not the 
less continue to plot and to intrigue — nay, such occupation became 
more necessary, as an escape from himself. 

And, in the meanwhile, Olivier Dalibard sought to take courage 
from the recollection that the Chouan had taken an oath (and he knew 
that oaths are held sacred with the Bretons) that he would keep bis hand 
from his knife, unless he had clear evidence of treachery ;— such evi- 
dence existed, but only in Dalibard's desk, or the archives of louche. 
Tush, he was safe ! And so, when from dreams of fear, he started at 
the depth of night, so his bolder wife would whisper to him with firm 
uncaressing lips, — " Olivier Dalibard, thou fearest the living, dost thou 
never fear the dead ? _ Thy dreams are haunted with a spectre. Why 
takes it not the accusing shape of thy mouldering kinsman ? " Dali- 
bard would have answered, for he was a philosopher in his cowardice, 
" II n'y a que les morts, qui ne reviennent pas." 

It is the notable convenience of us narrators to represent, by what 
is called soliloquy^ the thoughts — the interior of the personages we 
describe. And this is almost the master-work of the tale-teller — that 
is, if the soliloquy be really in words, what self-commune is in the dim 
and tangled recesses of the human heart ! But to this privilege we 
are rarely admitted in the case of Olivier Dalibard; for he rarely 
communed with himself; a sort of mental calculation, it is true, eter- 
nally went on within him, like the wheels of a destiny ; but it had 
become a mechanical operation — seldom disturbed by that conscious- 



LUCaETIA. 123 

nesi of thought, with its struggles of fear and doubt, conscience and 
crime, which gives its appalling interest to the soliloquy of tragedy. 
Amidst tie tremendous secrecy of that profound intellect, as at the 
bottom of a sea, only monstrous images of terror, things of prey, 
stirred in cold-blooded and devouring life; but into these deeps 
Olivier himself did not dive. He did not face hisownsoul; his outer 
lite and his inner life seemed separate individualities, just as, in some 
complicated state, the social machine goes on through all its number- 
less cycles of vice and dread, whatever the acts of the government, 
wlucli is the representative of the state, and stands for the state in 
the shallow judgment of history. 

Before tins tune Olivier Dalibard's manner to his son had greatly 
changed from the indifference it betrayed in England ; it was kind 
and affectionate, almost caressing ; while on the other hand, Gabriel, 
as if in possession of some secret_ which gave him power over his 
father, took a more careless and independent tone, often absented 
himself from the house for days together, joined the revels of young 
profligates older than himself, with whom he had formed acquaintance, 
indulged in spendthrift expenses, and plunged prematurely into the 
stream of vicious pleasure that oozed through the mud of Paris. 

One morning, JDalibard, returning from a visit to Madame Bel- 
langer, found Gabriel alone in the salon, contemplating his fair face and 
gay dress in one of the mirrors, and smoothing down the hair, which he 
wore long and sleek, as in the portraits of Raffaelle. Dalibard's lip 
curled at the boy's coxcombry, though such tastes he himself had 
fostered, according to his ruling principles, that to govern, you must 
find a foible, or instil it ; but the sneer changed into a smile. 

_ " Are you satisfied with yourself, joli gargon ?" he said, with satur- 
nine playfulness. 

"At least, sir, I hope that you will not be ashamed of me, when you 
formally legitimatise me as your son. The time has come, yon know, 
to keep your promise." 

"And it shall be kept, do not fear. But first, I have an employ- 
ment for you — a mission — your first embassy, Gabriel." 

"I listen, sir." 

"I have to send to England a communication of the utmost impor- 
tance—public importance— to the secret agent of the French govern- 
ment. We are on the eve of a descent on England. We are hf 
correspondence with some in London on whom we count lor support. 
A man might be suspected, and searched — mind, searched. You, a 
boy, with English name and speech, will be my safest envoy. Buona- 
parte approves my selection. On your return, he permits me to pre- 
sent you to him. He loves the rising generation. In a few days, 
yon will be prepared to start." 

Despite the calm tone of the father, so had the son, from the instinct 
of fear and self-preservaticn, studied every accent, every glance of 
Olivier— so had he constituted himself a spy upon the heart whose 
perfidy was ever armed, that he detected at once m the proposal some 
scheme hostile to his interests. He made, however, no opposition to 
the plan suggested ; and seemingly satisfied with his obedience, the 
father dismissed him. 



124 LTJORETIA. 

As soon as he was in the streets, Gabriel went straight to the house 
of Madame Bellanger. The hotel had been purchased in her name, 
and she therefore retained it. Since her husband's death, he had 
avoided that house, before so familiar to him; and now lie grew 
pale and breathed hard as he passed by the porter's lodge up the 
lofty stairs. 

He knew of his father's recent and constant visits at the house ; 
and, without conjecturing precisely what were Olivier's designs, lis 
connected them, in the natural and acquired shrewdness he possessed, 
with the wealthy widow. He resolved to watch, observe, and draw 
liis own conclusions. As he entered Madame Bellanger's room rather 
abruptly, he observed her push aside amongst her papers something 
she had been gazing on— something which sparkled to his eyes. He 
sat himself down close to her with the caressing manner he usually 
adopted towards women ; and in the midst of the babbling talk with 
which ladies generally honour boys, he suddenly, as if by accident, 
displaced the papers, and saw his father's miniature set in brilliants. 
The start of the widow, her blush, and her exclamation, strengthened 
the light that flashed upon his mind. " O-ho, I see now," he said, 
laughing, " why my father is always praising black hair ; and— nay, 
nay —gentlemen may admire ladies in Paris, surely ? " 

" Pooh, my dear child, your father is an old friend of my poor hus- 
band's, and a near relation, too ! But, Gabriel, moil petit ange ! you 
had better not say at home that you have seen this picture, — Madame 
Dalibard might be foolish enough to be angry." 

" To be sure not. I have kept a secret before now ! " — and again 
the boy's cheek grew pale, and he looked hurriedly round. 

" And you are very fond of Madame Dalibard, too ; so you must 
not vex her." 

" Who says I'm fond of Madame Dalibard ? — a stepmother ! '* 

" Why, your father, of course — il est si boil — ce pauvre Dalibard ; 
and all men like cheerful faces ; but, then, poor lady — an English- 
woman so strange here, — very natural she should fret, and with bad 
health, too."^ 

" Bad health ! ah, I remember !— she, also, does not seem likely to 
live, long ! " 

" So ^your poor father apprehends. Well, well ; how uncertain life 
is ! ^\ ho would have thought dear Bellanger would have ■ " 

Gabriel rose hastily, and interrupted the widow's pathetic reflec- 
tions. "I only ran in to say Bon jour. I must leave you now." 

" Adieu, my dear boy— not a word on the miniature ! By the bye, 
here's a shirt-pin for you— tu es joli comme mi amour." 

All was now clear to Gabriel ; it was necessary to get rid of him, 
and for ever ! Dalibard might dread his attachment to Lucretia— he 
would dread still more his closer intimacy with the widow of Bellanger, 
should that widow wed again— and Dahbard, freed like her (by what 
means ?), be her choice ! Into that abyss of wickedness, fathomless 
to the innocent, the young villanous eye plunged, and surveyed the 
ground , a terror seized on him— a terror of life and death. Would 
Dalibard spare even his own son, if that son had the power to injure P 
-this mission- -was it exile only?— only a fall back to the old squalor 



of Lis uncle's studio ?— only the laying aside of a useless tool ?— or 
was it a snare to the grave ? Demon as Dalibaid was, doubtless the 
boy wronged him. But guilt construes guilt for the worst. 

Gabriel had formerly enjoyed the thought to match himself, should 
danger come, with Dalibard ; the hour had come, and he felt his impo- 
tence. Brave his father, and refuse to leave France ! from that, even, 
his reckless hardihood shrank, as from inevitable destruction. But to 
depart— be the poor victim and dupe ; after having been let loose 
amongst the riot of pleasure,— to return to labour and privation— 
from that option his vanity and his senses vindictively revolted. And 
Lucretia! — the only being who seemed to have a human kindness to 
him !— through all the vicious egotism of his nature, he had some 
grateful sentiments for her ; and even the egotism assisted that un- 
wouted amiability, for he felt that, Lucretia gone, he had no hold on 
his father's house — that the home of her successor never would be his. 
"While thus brooding, he lifted his eyes, and saw Dalibard pass in his 
carriage towards the Tuileries. The house, then, was clear— he could 
see Lucretia alone. He formed his resolution at once, and turned 
homewards. As he did so, he observed a man at the angle of the 
street, whose eyes followed Dalibard's carriage with an expression of 
unmistakable hate and revenge ; but scarcely had he marked the 
countenance, before the man, looking hurriedly round, darted away, 
and was lost amongst the crowd. 

Now that countenance was not quite unfamiliar to Gabriel. He 
had seen it before, as he saw it noW — hastily, and, as it were, by 
fearful snatches. Once he had marked, on returning home at twilight, 
a figure lurking by the house — and something, in the quickness with 
which it turned from his gaze, joined to his knowledge of Dalibard's 
apprehensions, made him mention the circumstance to his father when 
he entered. Dalibard bade him hasten with a note, written hurriedly, 
to an agent of the police, whom he kept lodged near at hand. The 
man was still on the threshold when the boy went out on this errand, 
and he caught a glimpse of his face ; but before the police-agent 
reached the spot, the ill-omened apparition had vanished. Gabriel 
now, as his eye rested full upon that threatening brow and those burn- 
ing eyes, was convinced that he saw before him the terrible Pierre 
Guillot, whose very name blenched his father's cheek. _ When the 
figure retreated, he resolved at once to pursue. He hurried through 
the crowd amidst which the man had disappeared, and looked eagerly 
into the facps of those he jostled ; sometimes, at the distance, he 
caught sight of a figure which appeared to resemble the one which he 
pursued, but the likeness faded on approach. The chase, however, 
vague and desultory as it was, led him on till his way was lost 
amongst labyrinths of narrow and unfamiliar streets. Heated and 
thirsty, he paused, at last, before a small cafe, entered to ask for a 
draught of lemonade, and behold, chance had favoured him ! — the man 
he sought was seated there before a bottle of wine, and intently read- 
ing the newspaper. Gabriel jsat himself down at the adj oining table. In 
a few moments the man was joined by a new comer ; the two conversed, 
but in whispers so low, that Gabriel was unable to hear their conver- 
sion — though he caught more than once the name of "George."'' 



125 LTJCflETIA. 

Both the men were violently excited, and the expression of their 
countenances was menacing and sinister. The first-comer pointed 
often to the newspaper, and read passages from it to his companion. 
This suggested to Gabriel the demand for another journal. When 
the waiter brought it to him, his eye rested upon a long paragraph in 
vriiich the name of George Cadoudal frequently occurred. In fact, 
all the journals of the day were filled with speculations on the con- 
spiracy and trial of that fiery martyr to an erring adaptation of a noble 
principle. Gabriel knew that his father had had a principal share in 
the detection of the defeated enterprise ; and his previous persuasions 
were confirmed. 

His sense of hearing grew sharper by continued effort, and at 
length he heard the first-comer say distinctly — " If I were but sure 
that I had brought this fate upon George, by introducing to him that 

accursed Dalibard— if my oath did but justify me, I would ;" the 

concluding sentence was lost. A few moments after, the two men 
rose, and from the familiar words that passed between them and the 
master of the cafe, who approached, himself, to receive the reckoning, 
the shrewd boy perceived that the place was no unaccustomed haunt. 
He crept nearer and nearer ; and as the landlord shook hands with 
his customer, he heard distinctly the former address him by the name 
of " Guillot." When the men withdrew, Gabriel followed them at a 
distance (taking care first to impress on his memory the name of the 
cafe, and the street in which it was placed), and, as he thought, un- 
observed : he was mistaken. Suddenly, in one street, more solitary 
than the rest, the man whom he was mainly bent on tracking, turned 
round — advanced to Gabriel, who was on the other side of the street, 
and laid his hand upon him so abruptly, that the boy was fairly taken 
by surprise. 

"Who bade you follow us?" said he, with so dark and fell an 
expression of countenance, that even Gabriel's courage failed him : 
"no evasion — no lies — speak out, and at once;" and the grasp 
tightened on the boy's throat. 

Gabriel's readiness of resource and presence of mind did not long 
forsake him. 

" Loose your hold, and I will tell you— you stifle me." The man 
slightly relaxed his grasp, and Gabriel said, quickly — " My mother 
perished on the guillotine in the Reign of Terror; I am for the 
Bourbons. I thought I overheard words which showed sympathy for 
poor George, the brave Chowan. I followed you ; for I thought 1 was 
following friends." 

The man smiled as he fixed his steady eye upon the unflinching 
child : " My poor lad," he said gently, " I believe you— pardon me — 
but follow us no more— we are dangerous !" He waved his hand, 
and strode away, rejoined his companion, and Gabriel reluctantly 
abandoned the pursuit, and went homeward. It was long before he 
reached his father's house, for he had strayed into a strange quarter 
of Paris, and had frequently to inquire the way. At length he reached 
home, and ascended the stairs to a small room, m which Lucretia usually 
sat, and which was divided by a narrow corridor from the sleeping- 
chamber of herself and Dalibard. His stepmother, leaning her cheek 



LCCHETIA. 137 

upon her hand, was seated by the window, so absorbed in some 
gloomy thoughts, which cast over her rigid face a shade, intense and 
solemn as despair, that she did not perceive the approach of the boy 
till he threw his arm round her neck, and then she started as in 
alarm — 

"You! only you," she said, with a constrained smile; "soe, my 
nerves arc not so strong as they were !" 
" You are disturbed, belle mere — has he been vexing you ?" 
" He— Dalibard— no ; indeed, we were only, this morning, dis- 
cussing matters of business." 
" Business ! — that means money ! " 

"Truly, said Lu3retia, "phoney does make the staple of life's 
business. In spite of his new appointment, your father needs some 
sums in hand— favours are to be bought— opportunities for specula- 
tion occur, and " 

"And my father," interrupted Gabriel, "wishes your consent to 
raise the rest of your portion." 

Lucretia looked surprised, but answered quietly: "He had my 
consent long since, but the trustees to the marriage-settlement — mere 
men of business — my uncle's bankers, for I had lost all claim on my 
kindred — refuse, or at least, interpose such difficulties as amount to 
refusal." 
" But that reply came some days since," said Gabriel, musingly. 
" How did you know — did your father tell you ?" 
"Poor belle mere!" said Gabriel, almost with pity, "can you live 
in this house, and not watch all that passes — every stranger, every 
message, every letter ? — But what, then, does he wish with you ?" 

"He has suggested my returning to England, and seeing the 
trustees myself. His interest can obtain my passport." 
" And you have refused ? " 
" I have not consented." 

"Consent! — hush!— your maid — Marie is not waiting without," 
and Gabriel rose and looked forth ; " no, confound these doors ! none 
close as they ought in this house. Is it not a clause in your 
settlement that the half of your fortune now invested goes to the 
survivor?" 

"It is," replied Lucretia, struck and thrilled at the question. 
"How, again, did you know this ?" 

" I saw my father reading the copy. If you die first, then, he has 
all. If he merely wanted the money, he would not send you away !" 
There was a terrible pause. Gabriel resumed : " I trust you, it 
may be, with my life ; but I will speak out. My father goes much to 
Ballanger's widow — she is rich and weak. Come to England ! Yes, 
come— for he is about to dismiss me. He fears that I shall be in the 
way, to warn you, perhaps, or to— to — in short, both of us are in his 
way. He gives you an escape. Once in England, the war which is_ 
breaking out will prevent your return. He will twist the laws of 
divorce to his favour — he will marry again ! What then P — he spares 
you what remains of your fortune — he spares your life, llemain here 
— cross his schemes— and no, no ; — come to England— safer anywhere 
than here!" 



123 I/UCRETIA. 

As he spoke, great changes had passed over Lucretia's countenance. 
At first it was the flash of conviction, then the stunned shock of 
horror ; now she rose — rose to her full height — and there was a livid 
and deadly light in hev eyes— the light of conscious courage, and 
power, and revenge. " Fool," she muttered, " with all his craft ! 
Fool, fool ! As if, in the war of household perfidy, the woman did 
not always conquer ! Man's only chance is to be mailed in honour ! " 

" But," said Gabriel, overhearing her, " but you do not remember 
what it is. There is nothing you can see, and guard against. It is 
not like an enemy face to face ; it is death in the food, m the air, in 
the touch. You stretch out your arms in the dark — you feel nothing, 
and you die ! Oh, do not fancy that I have not thought well (for I 
am almost a man now) if there were no means to resist — there are 
none ! As well make head against the plague— it is in the atmo- 
sphere. Come to England, and return. Live poorly, if you must — 
but live ! — but live!" 

" Return to England poor and despised, and bound still to him, or 
a disgraced and divorced wife — disgraced by the low-born dependent 
on my kinsman's house — and fawn perhaps upon my sister and her 
husband for bread ! Never ! — I am at my post, and I will not fly ! " 

"Brave! brave!" said the boy, clapping his hands, and sin- 
cerely moved by a daring superior to his own — " I wish I could help you ! " 

Lucretia's eye rested on him with the full gaze, so rare in its looks. 
She drew him to her, and kissed his brow — " Boy, through life, what- 
ever our guilt and its doom, we are bound to each other. I may yet 
live to have wealth — if so, it is yours as a son's. I may be iron to 
others — never to you. Enough of this — I must reflect ! " She passed 
her hands over her eyes a moment, and resumed — " You would help 
me in my self-defence ; I think you can. You have been more alert 
in your watch than I have. You must have means I have not secured. 
Your father guards well all his papers ! " 

" I have keys to every desk. My foot passed the threshold of that 
room under the roof, before yours. But, no ; his powers can never 
be yours ! He has never confided to you half his secrets ! He has 
antidotes for every — every " 

" Hist ! what noise is that ? Only the shower on the casements ! 
No, no, child, that is not my object. _ Cadoudal's conspiracy! Your 
father lias letters from Eouche, which show how he has betrayed 
others who are stronger to avenge than a woman and a boy." 

"Well!" 

" I would have those letters ! Give me the keys ! But hold ! — 
Gabriel — Gabriel, you may yet misjudge him. This woman — wife to 
the dead man — his wife ! Horror Have you no proofs of what you 
imply?" 

" Proofs ! " echoed Gabriel, in a tone of wonder, " I can but see and 
conjecture. You are warned, watch and decide for yourself. But 
again I say, come to England ; i" shall go !" 

Without reply, Lucretia took the keys from Gabriel's half -reluctant 
hand, and passed into her husband's writing-room. When she had 
entered, she locked the door. She passed at once to a huge secretary, 
oi which the key was small as a fairy's work. SI13 opened it with 



LTTCKETIA. \tj 

ease by one of the counterfeits. No love -correspondence— the first 
object' of her search, for she was woman— met her eye. "What need 
of letters, when interviews were so facile ! But she soon found a 
document that told all which love-letters could tell — it was an account 
of the monies and possessions of Madame Bellanger— and there were 
pencil notes on the margin :— " Vautran will give 400,000 francs for 
the lauds in Auvergne— to be accepted. Consult on the power of 
sale granted to a second husband. Query, if there is no chance of the 
heir-at-law disputing the monies invested in Madame B/s name," — 
and such memoranda as a man notes down in the schedule of pro- 
perties about to be his own. In these inscriptions there was a hideous 
mockery of all love— like the blue lights of corruption, they showed 
the black vault of the heart. The pale reader saw what her own 
attractions had been, and, fallen as she was, she smiled superior in 
her bitterness of scorn. Arranged methodically with the precision of 
business she found the letters she next looked for; one recognising 
Dalibara's services in the detection of the conspiracy, and authorising 
him to employ the police in the search of Pierre Guillot, sufficed for her 
purpose. She withdrew, and secreted it. She was about to lock up 
the secretary, when her eye fell on the title of a small MS. volume in 
a corner ; aiid as she read, she pressed one hand convulsively to her 
heart, while, twice with the other, she grasped the volume, and twice 
withdrew the grasp. The title ran harmlessly thus : — " Philosophical 
and chemical inquiries into the nature and materials of the poisons in 
txe between the 14?th and l&h centuries" Hurriedly, and at last, as if 
doubtful of herself, she left the MS., closed the secretary, and returned 
to Gabriel. 

" You have got the paper you seek ?" he said. 

"Yes." 

" Then whatever you do, you must be quick— he will soon discover 
the loss." 

"I will be quick." 

" It is I whom he will suspect," said Gabriel, in alarm, as thav 
thought struck him. "No, for my sake, do not take the letter till I 
am gone. Do not fear, in the mean time — he will do nothing against 
you while I am here." 

" I will replace the letter till then," said Lucretia, meekly. " You 
have a right to my first thoughts." So she went back, and Gabriel 
(suspicious, perhaps) crept after her. 

As she replaced the document he pointed to the MS. which had 
tempted her — " I have seen that before, how I longed for it ! If any- 
thing ever happens to him, I claim that as my legacy." 

Their hands met as lie said this, and grasped each other convul- 
sively ; Lucretia relocked the secretary, and when she gamed the 
next room, she tottered to a chair. Her strong nerves gave way lor 
the moment ; she uttered no cry, but, by the whiteness of her face, 
Gabriel saw that she was senseless : senseless for a minute or so — 
scarcely more. But the return to consciousness with a clenched hand, 
and a brow of defiance, and a stare of mingled desperation ana 
dismay, seemed rather the awaking from some frightful dream of 
violence and struggle than the slow, languid recovery from the faint 



ISO LTJCltETIA. 

ness of a swoon. Yes, henceforth, to sleep, was to couch by a ser- 
pent — to breathe was to listen for the avalanche ! Thou who didst 
trifle so wantenly with Treason, now gravely front the grim comrade 
thou hast won • thou scheming desecrator of the Household Gods, 
now learn, to the last page of dark knowledge, what the hearth is 
without them ! 

Gabriel was strangely moved as he beheld that proud and solitary 
despair. An instinct of nature had hitherto checked him from 
actively aiding Lucretia in that struggle with his father, which could 
but end in the destruction of one or the other. He had contented 
himself with forewarnings, with hints, with indirect suggestions ; but 
now, all his sympathy was so strongly roused on her behalf, that the 
last faint scruple of filial conscience vanished into the abyss of blood, 
over which stood that lonely Titaness. He drew near, and, clasping 
her hand, said, in a quick and broken voice — 

" Listen ! You know where to find proof of my fa that is, 

of — Dalihard's treason to the conspirators ; you know the name of 
the man ne dreads as an avenger, and you know that he waits but the 
proof to strike ; but you do not know where to find that man, if his 
revenge is wanting for yourself. The police has not hunted him out ; 
how can you ? Accident has made me acquainted with one of his 
haunts. Give me a single promise, and I will put you at least upon 
that clue — weak, perhaps, but as yet the sole one to be followed. 
Promise me that, only in defence of your own life, not for mere 
jealousy, you will avail yourself of the knowledge, and you shall know 
all I do!" 

" Do you think," said Lucretia, in a calm, cold voice, " that it is 
for jealousy, which is love, that I would murder all hope, all peace ? 
for we have here — (and she smote her breast) — here, if not else- 
where, a heaven and a hell ! Son, I will not harm your father, except 
in self-defence ! But tell me nothing that may make the son a party 
in the father's doom." 

" The father slew the mother " muttered Gabriel, between his 
clenched teeth ; " and to me, you have well nigh supplied her place. 
Strike, if need be, in her name ! If you are driven to want the arm 

of Pierre Guillot, seek news of him at the Cafe Dufour, Rue S , 

Boulevard du Temple. Be calm now, I hear your husband's step." 

A few days more, and Gabriel is gone ! Wife and husband are 
alone with each other. Lucretia has refused to depart. Then 
that mute coma of horror ! that suspense of two foes in the 
conflict of death— for the subtle prying eye of Olivier Dalibard 
sees that he himself is suspected — farther he shuns from sifting! 
Glance fastens on glance, and then hurries smilingly away. Prom 
the cup, grins a skeleton — at the board, warns a spectre. But 
how kind still the words, and how gentle the tone; and they 
lie down side by side in the marriage-bed — brain plotting against 
brain, heart loathing heart. It is a duel of life and death, 
between those sworn through life and beyond death at the altar. 
But it is carried on with aU the forms and courtesies of duel in 
the age of chivalry. No conjugal wrangling — no slip of the tongue ; 
•-the oil is on the surface of the wave — the monsters in the hell 



IX'CRETIA. 131 

of the abyss war invisibly below. At length, a dull torpor creeps- 
oyer the woman — she feels the taint in her veins, — the slow victory 
is begun. What mattered all her vigilance and caution? Vainly 

tlide from the pangs of the serpent, his very breath suffices to 
cstroy ! Pure seems the draught and wholesome the viand — that 
master of the science of murder needs not the means of the bungler ! 
Then, keen and strong from the creeping lethargy started the fierce 
instinct of self and the ruthless impulse of revenge. Not too late yet 
to escape ; for those subtle banes, that are to defy all detection,. 
work but slowly to their end. 

One evening, a woman, closely mantled, stood at watch bythe- 
angle of a wall. The light came dim and muffled from the window 
of a cafe hard at hand — the reflection slept amidst the shadows on 
the dark pavement, and, save a solitary lamp, swung at distance in, 
the vista over the centre of the narrow street, no ray broke the 
gloom. The night was clouded and starless, the wind moaned in 
gusts, and the rain fell heavily ; but the gloom and the loneliness did 
not appal the eye, and the wind did not chill the heart, and the rain: 
fell unheeded on the head, of the woman at her post. At times, she 
paused in her slow, sentry-like pace to and fro, to look through the 
window of the cafe, and ner gaze fell always on one figure seated 
apart from the rest. At length her pulse beat more quickly, and 
tie patient lips smiled sternly. The figure had risen to depart. 
A man came out, and walked quickly up the street; the woman 
approached, and when the man was under the single lamp swung 
aloft, he felt his arm touched; the woman was at his side, and 
looking steadily into his face — 

" You are Pierre Guillot, the Breton, the friend of George Cadou- 
dal. Will you be his avenger?" 

The Chouan's first impulse had been to place his hand in his vest, 
and something shone bright in the lamp-light, clasped in those iron 
fingers. The voice and the manner reassured him, and he answered 
readily — 

" I am he whom you seek, and I only live to avenge." 

" Read, then, and act," answered the woman, and she placed a 

paper in his hands. 

****** 

At Laugh ton the babe is on the breast of the fair mother ; and the 
father sits beside the bed; and mother and father dispute almost 
angrily whether mother or father, those soft rounded features of 
slumbering infancy resemble most. At the red house, near the 
market-town, there is a hospitable bustle. William is home earlier 
than usual. Within the last hour, Susan has been thrice into- 
every room. Husband and wife are now watching at the window. 
The good Fieldens, with a coach full of children, are expected, every 
moment, on a week's visit at least. 

In the cafe, in the Boulevard du Temple, sit Pierre Guillot, the 
Chouan. and another of the old band of brigands, whom George 
Cadoudal had mustered in Paris. There is an expression of content 
on Guillot's countenance— it seems more open than usual, and there- 
in a complacent smile on his lips. He is whispering low to his friend. 



532 LTJCKETIA. 

in the intervals of eating, an employment pursued with the hearty 
gusto of a hungry man. But his friend does not seem to sympathise 
with the cheerful feelings of his comrade; he is_ pale, and there is 
terror on his face ; and you may see that the journal in his hand 
trembles like a leaf. 

In the gardens of the Tuileries, some score or so of gossips group 
together. 

" And no news of the murderer ?" asked one. 

" No ; but a man who had been friend to Robespierre must hare 
made secret enemies enough." 

" Ce pauvre Dalibard ! He was not mixed up with the Terrorists, 
nevertheless." 

" Ah, but the more deadly for that, perhaps — a sly man was 
Olivier Dalibard!" 

" What's the matter?" said an employe, lounging up to the group. 
" Are you talking of Olivier Dalibard ? It is but the other day he 
had Marsan's appointment. He is now to have PleyePs. I heard it 
two days ago — a capital thing ! Teste, il ira loin ! We shall see 
him a senator soon." 

"Speak for yourself," quoth a ci-devant Abbe, with a laugh; "I 
should be sorry to see him again, soon, wherever he be." 

" Plait-il ! — I don't understand you !" 

" Don't you know that Olivier Dalibard is murdered — found 
stabbed — in his own house, too ! " 

"del! Pray tell me all you know. His place, then, is vacant ! " 

" Why, it seems that Dalibard, who had been brought up to medi- 
cine, was still fond of chemical experiments. He hired a room at 
the top of the house for such scientific amusements. He was accus- 
tomed to spend part of his nights there. They found him at morning, 
bathed in his blood, with three ghastly wounds in his side, and his 
fingers cut to the bone. He had struggled hard with the knife that 
butchered him." 

" In his own house !" said a lawyer : " some servant or spendthrift 
heir!" 

" He has no heir but young Bellanger, who will be riche a millions, 
and is now but a schoolboy at Lyons. No : it seems that the window 
■was left open, and that it communicates with the roof-tops. There the 
murderer had entered, and by that way escaped, for they found the 
leads of the gutter dabbled with blood. The next house was unin- 
habited — easy enough to get in there, and lie perdu till night." 

"Hum," said the lawyer; "but the assassin could only have 
learned Dalibard's habits from some one in the house. Was the 
deceased married ? " 

" Oh, yes ; to an Englishwoman." 

" She had lovers, perhaps ? " 

" Pooh ! lovers !— the happiest couple ever known ! You should 
have seen them together. I dined there last week." 

" It is strange ! " said the lawyer. 

" And he was getting on so well," muttered a hungry-looking jmui. 

"And his place is vacant !" repeated the employe as he quitted the 
«rwd abstractedly. 



MJCRETIA. 1.SS 

In the house of Olivier Dalibard sits Lucretia, alone, and in her 
own usual morning room. The officer appointed to such tasks by the 
French law hid performed his visit, and made his notes, and 
expressed condolence with the widow, and promised justice and retri- 
bution, and placed his seal on the locks till the representatives of the 
heir-at-law shall arrive ; and the heir-at-law is the very boy who had 
succeeded so unexpectedly to the wealth of Jean Bellanger, the con- 
tractor ! But Lucretia has obtained beforehand all she wishes to save 
from the rest. An open box is on the floor, into which her hand 
drops noiselessly a volume in manuscript. On the forefinger of that 
hand is a ring, larger and more massive than those usually worn by 
women ;— by Lucretia never worn before. Why should that ring 
have been selected with such care from the dead man's hoards? 
"YV'iy so precious the dull opal in that cumbrous setting? From the 
hand the volume drops without sound into the box, as those whom 
the secrets of the volume instruct you to destroy, may drop without 
noise into the grave. The trace of some illness, recent and deep, nor 
conquered yet, has ploughed lines in that young countenance, and 
dimmed the light of those scarchiug eyes. Yet, courage ! the poison. 
is arrested— the poisoner is no more— minds like thine, stern woman, 
are cased in coffers of steel, and the rust as yet has gnawed no deeper 
than the surface. So, over that face, stamped with bodily suffering, 
plays a calm smile of triumph. The schemer has baffled the schemer! 
Turn now to the right, pass by that narrow corridor, you are in the 
marriage-chamber — the windows are closed. Tall tapers burn at the 
foot of the bed. Now go back to that narrow corridor ; disregarded, 
thrown aside, are a cloth and a besom ; the cloth is wet still ; but 
here, and there, the red stains are dry, and clotted as with bloody 

flue : and the hairs of the besom start up, torn and ragged, as if the 
ristles had a sense of some horror—as if things inanimate still par- 
took of men's dread at men's deeds. If you passed through the corri- 
dor, and saw in the shadow of t he wall that homeliest of instruments 
cast away and forgotten, you would smile at the slatternly housework. 
But if you knew that a corpse had been borne down those stairs to 
the left— borne along those floors to that marriage-bed, with the blood 
oo/.ing, and gushing, and plashing below, as the bearers passed with 
their burthen, then, straight thai, dead thing would take the awe of 
the dead being; it told its own I ale of violence and murder; it had 
dabbled in the gore of the violated clay; it had become an evidence 
of the crime. No wonder that its hairs bristled up, sharp and rugged, 
in the shadow of the wall ! 

The first part of the tragedy ends. Let fall the curtain. When 
next it rises, years will have passed away, graves uncounted will have 
v. iT'iL'ht fresh hollows in our merry sepulchre — sweet earth ! Take 
a s iiui from the shore, take a drop from the ocean, less than sand- 
grain and drop in man's planet one Death and one Crime! On the 
ii'ap, ' race aU oceans, and search out, every shore, — more than seas, mora 
than lands, in God's balance shall weigh one Death and one Crime ! 



IS* 



XVCUS.TUL. 



PART THE SECOND. 



PBOLOGUE TO PAIIT THE SECOND. 

The century has advanced : The rush of the deluge has eobed back, 
the old land-marks have reappeared ; the dynasties Napoleon willed 
into life have crumbled to the dust: the plough has passed over 
Waterloo ; autumn after autumn the narvests have glittered on that 
grave of an empire. Tlirough the immense ocean of universal change, 
we look back on the single track which our frail boat has cut through 
the waste. As a star shines impartially over the measureless expanse, 
though it seems to gild but one broken line to each eye ; so, as our 
memory gazes on the past, the light spreads not over all the breadth 
of the waste, where nations have battled, and argosies gone down — it 
falls narrow and confined, along the single course we have taken : we 
lean over the small raft on which we float, and see the sparkles but 
reflected from the waves that it divides. 

On the terrace at Laughton, but one step paces slowly. The bride 
clings not now to the bridegroom's arm. Though pale and worn, it 
is still the same gentle face ; but the blush of woman's love has gone 
from it evermore. 

Charles Vernon (to call him still by the name in which he is best 
known to us) sleeps in the vault of the St. Johns. He had lived 
longer than he himself had expected, than his physician had hoped — 
lived, cheerful and happy, amidst quiet pursuits a,nd innocent excite- 
ments. Three sons had blessed his hearth, to mourn over his grave. 
But the two elder were delicate and sickly. They did not long survive 
liirn, and died within a few months of each other. The third seemed 
formed of a different mould and constitution from his brethren. To 
him descended the ancient heritage of Laughton, and he promised to 
enjoy it long. 

It is Vernon's widow who walks alone in the stately terrace; sad 
still, for she loved well the choice of her youth, and she misses yet the 
children in the grave : from the date of Vernon's death, she wore 
mourning without and within; and the sorrows that came later, 
broke more the bruised reed ; sad still, but resigned. One son sur- 
vives j and earth yet has the troubled hopes and the holy fears of 
affection. Though that son be afar, in sport or in earnest, in plea- 
sure or in toil, working out his destiny as man, still that step is less 
solitary than it seems. When does the son's image not walk beside 
the mother ? Though she lives in seclusion, though the gay world 
lempts no more, the gay world is sat linked to her thoughts. From 



LTJCRET1A. 135 

the distance she hears its murmurs in music. Her fancy still mingles 
with the crowd, and follows one, to her eye, outshining all the rest. 
Never vain in herself, she is vain now of another; and the small 
triumphs of the young and well-born seem trophies of renown to the 
eyes so tenderly deceived. 

In the old-fashioned market-town still the business goes on, stuj 
the doors of the Bank open and close every moment on the great daj 
of the week ; but the names over the threshold are partially changed. 
The junior partner is busy no more at the desk : not wholly forgotten — 
if his name still is spoken, it is not with thankfulness and praise. A 
something rests on the name — that something which dims and atl aints 
— not proven, not certain, but suspected and dubious. Thehead shakes, 
the voice whispers, — and the attorney now lives in the solid red house 
at the verge of the town. 

_ In the vicarage, Time, the old scythe-bearer, has not paused from 
his work. Still employed on Greek texts, little changed, save that 
his hair is grey, and that some lines in his kindly face tell of sorrows 
as of years, the Vicar sits in his parlour, but the children no longer, 
blithe-voiced and rose-cheeked, dart through the rustling espaliers. 
Those children, grave men, or staid matrons (save one whom Death 
chose, and therefore now of all best beloved!) are at their posts in the 
world. The young ones are flown from the nest, and ; with anxious 
wings, here and there, search food in their turn for their young. But 
the blithe voice and rose-cheek of the child make not that loss 
which the hearth misses the most. From childhood to manhood, and 
from manhood to departure, the natural changes are gradual and 
prepared. The absence most missed is that household life which 
presided, which kept things in order, and must be coaxed if a chair 
were displaced. That providence in trifles, that clasp of small links, 
that dear, bustling agency — now pleased, now complaining — dear alike 
in each change of its humour ; that active life which has no self of 
its own ; — like the mind of a poet, though its prose be the humblest, 
transferring self into others, with its right to be cross, and its charter 
to scold ; for the motive is clear — it takes what it loves too anxiously 
to heart. The door of the parlour is open, the garden-path still 
passes before the threshold ; but no step now has full right to halt at 
the door, and interrupt the grave thought on Greek texts ; — no small 
talk on details and wise savings chimes in with the wrath of Medea. 
The Prudent Genius is gone from the household ; and perhaps as the 

food scholar now wearily pauses, and looks out on the silent garden, 
e would have given with joy all that Athens produced, from iEschylus 
to Plato, to hear again from the old familiar lips the lament on torn 
jackets, or the statistical economy of eggs ! 

But see, though the wife is no more, though the children have 
departed, the Vicars home is not utterly desolate. See, along the 
same walk on which William soothed Susan's fears, and won her consent 
-^-see, what fairy advances ? Is it Susan returned to youth P How 
like ! — yet, look again, and how unlike ! The same, the pure, candid 
regard— the same, the clear, limpid blue of the eye — the same, that 
fair hue of the hair — light, but not auburn — more subdued, more 
harmonious than that equivocal colour which too nearly approaches 



136 LUCUETIA. 

to red. But how much more blooming and joyous than Susau'o is 
that exquisite face in which all Hebe smiles forth— how much airier 
the tread, light with health — how much rounder, if slighter still, the 
wave of that undulating form! She smiles, — her lips move, — she 
is conversing with herself, — she cannot be all silent, even when alone ; 
for the sunny gladness of her nature must have vent like a bird's. 
But do not fancy that that gladness speaks the levity which comes 
from the absence of thought ; it is rather from the depth of thought 
that it springs, as from the depth of a sea comes its music. See, 
while she pauses and listens, with her finger half-raised to her lip, as 
amidst that careless jubilee of birds she hears a note more grave and 
Sustained,— the nightingale singing by day (as sometimes, though 
rarely, he is heard— perhaps because he misses his mate,— perhaps- 
because he sees from his bower the creeping form of some foe to his- 
race) ; see, as she listens now to that plaintive, low-chanted warble, 
how quickly the smile is sobered, — how the shade, soft and pensive, 
steals over the brow. _ It is but the mystic sympathy with Nature 
that bestows the smile or the shade. In that heart lightly moved 
beats the fine sense of the poet. It is the exquisite sensibility of the 
nerves that sends its blithe play to those spirits, and from the 
clearness of the atmosphere comes, warm and ethereal, the ray of that 
light. 

And does the roof of the pastor give shelter to Helen Mainwaring's- 
youth ? Has Death taken trom her the natural protectors ? Those 
forms which we saw so full of youth and youth's heart, in that very 
spot, — has the grave closed on them yet ? Yet ! — how few attain to 
the age of the Psalmist ! Twenty -seven years have passed since that 
date ; how often, in those years, have the dark doors opened for the 
young as for the old ! William Mainwaring died first, care-worn and 
shame-bowed; the blot on his name had cankered into his heart. 
Susan's life, always precarious, had struggled on, while he lived, by 
the strong power oi affection and will ; she would not die, for who 
then could console him ? _ but at his death the power gave way. She 
lingered, but lingered dyingly for three years ; and then, for the first 
time since William's death, she smiled— that smile remained on the 
lips of the corpse. They had had many trials, that young couple whom 
we left so prosperous and happy ! Not till many years alter their 
marriage had cue sweet consoler been bom to them. In the season 
of poverty, and shame, and grief, it came ; and there was no pride on 
Mainwaring's brow when they placed his first-born in his arms. By 
her will, the widow consigned Helen to the joint guardianship of 
Mr. Fielden and her sister ; but the latter was abroad, her address 
unknown, so the Vicar for two years had had sole charge of the 
orphan. She was not unprovided lor. The sum that Susan brought 
to her husband had been long since gone, it is true — lost in the cala- 
mity which had wrecked William Mainwaring's name, and blighted 
his prospects ; but Helen's grandfather, the land-agent, had died some 
time subsequent to that event, and, indeed, just before William's- 
death. He nad never forgiven his son the stain on his name, — never 
assisted, never even seen him since tl at fatal day ; but he left to Helen 



J.UCRET1A. 137 

ft sum of about £S,000, ■— n r she, at least, was innocent. In Air. Fiel- 
den's eyes, Helen was therefore an heiress. And who amongst his 
small range of acquaintance was good enough for her, not only so 
richly portioned, but so lovely, — accomplished, too, for her parents had 
of late years lived chiefly in France, and languages there are easily 
learned, and masters cheap ? Mr. Fielden knew but one, whom Pro- 
vidence had also consigned to his charge — the supposed son of his old 
pupil Ardworth ; but though a tender affection existed between the 
two young persons, it seemed too like that of brother and sister to 
afford much ground for Mr. Fielden' s anxiety or hope. 

From Ids window the Yicar observed the still attitude of the young 
orphan for a few moments, then he pushed aside his books, rose, and 
approached her. At the sound of bis tread, she woke from her reverie, 
ana bounded lightly towards him. 

" Ah, you would not see me before ! " she said, in a voice in which 
there was the slightest possible foreign accent, which betrayed the 
country in which her childhood had been passed ; " I peeped rn twice 
at the window. I wanted you so much to walk to the village. But 
you will come now, will you not ? " added the girl, coaxingly, as she 
looked up at him under the shade of her straw hat. 

" And what do you want in the village, my pretty Helen ? " 

" Why, you know it is Fair day, and you promised Bessie that you 
would buy her a fairing — to say nothing of me." 

" Very true, and I ought to look in ; it will help to keep the poor 
people from drinking. A clergyman should mix with his parishioners 
in their holidays. We must not associate our office only with grief, 
and sickness, and preaching. We will go. And what fairing are you 
to have?" 

"Oh, something very brilliant, I promise you ! I have formed grand 
notions of a fair. I am sure it must be like the bazaars we read of 
last night in that charming ' Tour in the East.' " 

The Yicar smiled, half benignly, half anxiously. " My dear child, 
it is so like you to suppose a village fair must be an Eastern bazaar. 
If you always thus judge of things by your fancy, how this sober world 
will deceive you, poor Helen ! " 

"It is not my fault — ne me grondez pas, mediant" answered Helen, 
hanging her head. " But come, sir, allow, at least, that if I let m> 
romance, as you call it, run away with me now and then, I can still 
content myself with the reality. What, you shake your head still ! 
Don't you remember the sparrow ? " 

"Ha! ha! yes — the sparrow that the pedlar sold you for a gold- 
finch ; and you were so proud of your purchase, and wondered so much 
why you could not coax the goldfinch to sing, till at last the paint 
wore away, and it was only a poor little sparrow ! " 

"Go on! Confess; dial fret, then ? Was I not as pleased with 
my dear sparrow, as I should have been with the prettiest goldfinch 
that ever sang? Does not the sparrow follow me about, and nestle 
on my shoulder- dear little thing ? And I was right after all ; for if 
1 had not fancied it a goldfinch, I should not have bought it, perhaps. 
But now I would not change it for a goldfinch — no, not even for that 



138 LFCUETIA. 

nightingale I heard just now. So let me still fancy the poor fair a 
bazaar ; it is a double pleasure, first to fancy the bazaar, and then to 
be surprised at the fair." 

" You argue well," said the Vicar, as they now entered the village ; 
" I really think, in spite of all your turn ior poetry, and Goldsmith, 
and Cowper, that you would take as kindly to mathematics as your 
cousin John Ardworth, poor lad ! " 

"Not if mathematics have made him so grave — and so churlish, I 
was going to say ; — but that word does him wrong. Dear cousin, so 
kind and so rough ! " 

"It is not mathematics that are to blame, if he is grave and 
absorbed," said the Vicar, with a sigh; "it is the two cares that 
gnaw most— poverty and ambition." 

" Way, do not sign ; it must be such a pleasure to feel, as he does, 
that one must triumph at last ! " 

"Umph! — John must have nearly reached London by this time," 
said Mr. Kelden, "for he is a stout walker, and this is the third day 
since he left us. Well, now that he is about fairly to be called to the 
bar, I hope that his fever will cool, and he will settle calmly to work. 
1 have felt great pain for him during this last visit." 

"Pain! But why?" 

" My dear, do you remember what I read out to you both from Sir 
William Temple the night before John left us ? " 

Helen put her hand to her brow, and with a readiness which 
showed a memory equally quick and retentive, replied, " Yes ; was it 
not to this effect ? I am not sure of the exact words—' To have 
something we have not, and be something we are not, is the root 
of all evil.'" 

" Well remembered, my darling ! " 

"Ah, but,", said Helen archly, "I remember too what my cousin 
replied, ' If Sir William Temple had practised his theory, he would 
not have been ambassador at the Hague, or ' " 

" Pshaw ! the boy's always ready enough with his answers," 
interrupted Mr. Kelden, rather petulantly. " There's the fair, my 
dear; more in your way, I see, than Sir William Temple's philo- 
sophy." 

And Helen was right — the fair was no eastern bazaar: but how 
delighted that young, impressionable mind was, notwithstanding! 
delighted with the swings and the roundabouts, the shows, the 
booths, even down to the gilt gingerbread kings and queens. All 
minds genuinely poetical are peculiarly susceptible to movement — 
that is, to the excitement of numbers. If the movement is sincerely 
joyous, as in the mirth of a village holiday, such a nature shares insen- 
sibly ia the joy. But if the movement is a false and spurious gaiety, 
as in a state ball, where the impassive face and languid step are out 
of harmony with the evident object of the scene — then the nature we 
speak of feels chilled and dejected. Hence it really is, that the more 
delicate and ideal order of minds soon grow inexpressiblyweary of 
the hack routine of what are called fashionable pleasures. Hence the 
same person most alive to a dance on the green, would _ be without 
enjoyment at Almack's. It is not because one scene is a village green, 



LUCEETIA. 139 

and the other a room in King Street ; nor is it because the actors in 
the one are of the humble, in the others of the noble class, but simply 
because the enjoyment in the first is visible and hearty, because in the 
other it is a listless and melancholy pretence. _ Helen fancied it was tlie 
swings and the booths that gave her that innocsnt exhilaration — it 
was not so ; it was the unconscious sympathy with the crowd around 
her. When the poetical nature quits its own dreams for the actual 
world, it enters, and transfuses itself into the hearts and humours of 
others. The two wings of that spirit which we call Genius, are 
reverie and sympathy. But poor little Helen had no idea that she had 
genius. Whether chasing the butterfly, or talking fona fancies to her 
birds, or whether with earnest, musing eyes, watching the stars 
come forth, and the dark pine-trees gleam iiito silver ; wnether with 
airy day-dreams and credulous wonder pouring over the magic tales of 
Mirglip or Aladdin, or whether spell-bound to awe by the solemn 
woes of Lear, or following the blind great bard into " the heaven of 
heavens, an earthly guest, to draw empyreal air," she obeyed but the 
honest and varying impulse in each change of her pliant mood ; and 
would have ascribed with genuine humility to the vagaries of child- 
hood, that prompt gathering of pleasure — that quick shifting sport of 
the fancy by which Nature binds to itself, in chains undulating aa 
melody, the lively senses of genius. 

While Helen, leaning on the Vicar's aim, thus surrendered herself 
to the innocent excitement of the moment, the Vicar himself smiled 
mid nodded to his parishioners, or paused to exchange a friendly word 
or two with the youngest or the eldest loiterers (those two extremes 
of mortality which the Church so tenderly unites), whom the scene 
drew to its tempting vortex, when a rough-haired lad, with a leather 
bag strapped across his waist, turned from one of the gingerbread 
booths, and touching his hat, said, " Please you, sir, I was a-coming 
to your house with a letter." 

The Vicar's correspondence was confined and rare, despite his dis- 
tant children, for letters but a few years ago were costly luxuries to 
persons of narrow income, and therefore the juvenile letter-carrier 
who plied between the post-town and the village, failed to excite in his 
breast that indignation for being an hour or more behind his time, 
which would have animated one to whom the post brings the usual 
event of the day. He took the letter from the boy's hand, and paid 
for it with a thrifty sigh, as he glanced at a handwriting unfamiliar to 
liim — perhaps from some clergyman poorer than himself. However, 
that was not the place to read letters, so he put the epistle in his 
pocket, until Helen, who watched his countenance to see when he 
grew tired of the scene, kindly proposed to returnhome. As they 
gained a stile half-way, Mr. Piemen remembered his letter, took it 
forth, and put on his spectacles. Helen stooped over the bank to 
gather violets ; the Vicar seated himself on the stile. As he again 
looked at the address, the handwriting, before unfamiliar, seemed to 
grow indistinctly on his recollection. That bold, firm hand — thin and 
fine as woman's, but large and regular as man's— was too peculiar to 
be forgotten. He uttered a brief exclamation of surprise and recog- 
nition, and hastily broke the seal. The contents ran thus : — 

L2 



140 LUCKETIA. 

" Deae Sik, — So many years have passed since any communication 
bas taken place between us, that the name of Lucretia Dalibard will 
seem more strange to you than that of Lucretia Clavering. I have 
recently returned to England after long residence abroad. I perceive 
by my deceased sister's will that she has confided her only daughter 
to my guardianship, conjointly with yourself. I am anxious to parti- 
cipate in that tender charge. I am alone in the world — an habitual 
sufferer — afflicted with a partial paralysis that deprives me of the use 
of my limbs. In such circumstances, it is the more natural that I 
should turn to th s only relative left me. My journey to England has 
so exhausted my strength, and all movement is so painful, that I must 
request you to excuse me for not coming in person for my niece. 
Your benevolence, nowever, will, I am sure, prompt jou to afford me 
the comfort of her society, as soon as you can contrive some suitable 
arrangement for her journey. Begging you to express to Helen, in 
my name, the assurance of such a welcome as is due from me to my 
sister's child, and waiting with great anxiety your reply, — I am, dear 
Sir, your very faithful servant, Lucketia Dalibard. 

" P.S. I can scarcely venture to- ask you to bring Helen yourself to 
town, but I should be glad if other inducements to take the journey 
afforded me the pleasure of seeing you once again. I am anxious, in 
addition to such details of my late sister as you may be enabled to 
give me, to learn something of the history of her connection Mr. 
AJrdworth, in whom I felt much interested years ago, and who, I 
am recently informed, left an infant, his supposed son, under your 
care. So long absent from England, how much have I to learn, and 
how little the mere gravestones tell us of the dead ! " 

While the Vicar is absorbed in this letter, equally unwelcome and 

unexpected, — while, unconscious as the daughter of Ceres gathering 

flowers when the Hell King drew near, of the change that awaited 

her and the grim presence that approached on her fate, — Helen 

bends still over the bank odorous with shrinking violets, we turn 

where the new generation equally invites our gaze, and make our 

first acquaintance with two persons connected with the progress of 

our tale. 

****** 

The britska stopped, 'ihe servant, who had been gradually accu- 
mulating present dust and future rheumatisms on the "bad eminence" 
of a rumble-tumble, exposed to the nipping airs of an English sky, 
leapt to the ground, and opened the carriage -door. 

" This is the best place for the view, sir — a little to the right." 

Percival St. John threw aside his book (a volume of Voyages), 
whistled to a spaniel dozing by his side, and descended lightly. 
Light was the step ot the young man, and merry was the bark of the 
dog, as it chased from the i oad the startled sparrow, rising high into the 
clear air — favourites of Nature both, man and dog ! 

You had but to plwce at Percival St. John, to know at once that 
he was of the race i^t toils not ; tie assured step spoke confidence 
m the world s fair smile. No care for the morrow dimmed the bold 
eye and the radiant bloom. 



trcnETiA. 14-1 

About the middle height— his slight figure, yet undeveloped, 
seemed not to have attained to its full growth — thedarkeningdown only 
just shaded a cheek somewhat sunburnt, though naturally fair, round 
which locks black as jet played sportively in the fresh air — about him 
altogether there was the inexpressible charm of happy youth. He 
scarcely looked sixteen, though, above four years older ; but for his 
firm though careless step, and the open fearlessness of his frank eye, 
you might have almost taken him for a girl in men's clothes, not from 
effeminacy of feature, but from the sparkling bloom of his youth, and 
from his unmistakeable newness to the cares and sins of man. A more 
delightful vision of ingenuous boyhood opening into life, under happy 
auspices, never inspired with pleased yet melancholy interest the eye 
of half-envious, half-pitying age. 

" And that," mused Percival St. John—" that is London ! Oh, for 
the Diable Boiteux to unroof me those distant houses, and show me 
the pleasures that lurk within ! Ah, what long letters I shall have 
to write home ! — How the dear old Captain will laugh oyer them, and 
how my dear good mother will put down her work and sigh ! Home ! 
— Urn, I miss it already. How strange and grim, after all, the huge 
city seems ! " 

His glove fell to the ground, and his spaniel mumbled it into shreds. 
The young man laughed, and, throwing himself on the grass, played 
gaily with the dog. 

"Me, Beau, sir, — fie; gloves are indigestible. Restrain your 
appetite, and we'll lunch together at the Clarendon." 

At this moment there arrived at the same patch of greensward a 
pedestrian some years older than Percival St. John — a tall, muscular, 
raw-boned, dust-covered, travel-stained pedestrian — one of your 
pedestrians in good earnest — no amateur in neat gambroon, manu- 
factured by Inkson, who leaves his carriage behind him, and walks on 
with his fishing-rod by choice, but a sturdy wanderer, with thick shoes 
and strapless trousers, a threadbare coat and a knapsack at his back. 
Yet, withal, the young man had the air of a gentleman ; not gentle- 
man as the word is understood in St. James's, the gentleman of the 
noble and idle class, but the gentleman as the title is accorded, by 
courtesy, to all to whom both education and the habit of mixing with 
educated persons gives a claim to the distinction and imparts an air 
of refinement. The new comer was strongly built, at once lean and 
large— far more strongly built than Percival St. John, but without his 
look of cheerful and comely health. His complexion had not the 
florid hues that should have accompanied that strength of body ; it 
was pale, though not sickly ; the expression grave, the lines deep, the 
face strongly marked. By his side trotted painfully a wiry, yellowish, 
loot sore Scotch terrier. Beau sprang from his master's caress, 
cocked his handsome head on one side, and suspended in silent halt 
his right fore-paw. Percival cast over his left shoulder a careless 
glance at the intruder. The last heeded neither Beau nor Percival. 
He slipped his knapsack to the ground, and the Scotch terrier sank 
upon it, and curled himself up into a ball. The wayfarer folded his 
arms tightly upon his breast, heaved a short unquiet sigh, and cast 
over the giant city, from under deeo-Dent lowering brows, a look so 



142 LUCREXIA. 

earnest, so searching, so full of inexpressible, dogged, determined 
power, that Percival, roused out of his gay indifference, rose and 
regarded him with curious interest. 

In the meanwhile. Beau had very leisurely approached the bilious- 
looking terrier ; and after walking three times round him, with a stare 
and a small sniff of superb impertmence, halted with great composure, 
and lifting his hind leg — O Beau, Beau, Beau ! your historian blushes 
for your Dreeding, and, like Sterne's recording angel, drops a tear 
upon the stain which washes it from the register — but not, alas ! 
from the back of the bilious terrier ! The space around was wide, 
Beau. You had all the world to choose ; why select so specially for 
insult the single spot on which reposed the worn-out and unoffending ? 
O, dainty Beau ! — 0, dainty world ! Own the truth, both of ye. 
There is something irresistibly provocative of insult in the back of a 
shabby-looking dog ! 

The poor terrier, used to affronts, raised its heavy eyelids,_ and 
shot the gleam of just indignation from its dark eyes. But it neither 
stirred nor growled, and Beau, extremely pleased with his achievement, 
wagged his tail in triumph, and returned to his master — perhaps, in 
parliamentary phrase, to " report proceedings, and ask leave to sit 
again." 

"I wonder," soliloquised Percival St. John, "what that poor 
fellow is thinking of ;— perhaps he is poor, indeed ! — no doubt of it, 
now I look again. And I so rich ! I shoul dlike to— hem, let's see 
what he's made of." 

Herewith Percival approached, and with all a boy's half-bashful, 
half-saucy frankness, said — " A fine prospect, sir." 

The pedestrian started, and threw a rapid glance over the brilliant 
figure that accosted him. Percival St. John was not to be abashed 
by stern looks; but that glance might have abashed many a more 
experienced man. The glance of a squire upon a corn-law missionary, 
of a Crockford dandy upon a Regent-street tiger, could not have been 
more disdainful. 

" Tush ! " said the pedestrian, rudely, and turned upon his heel. 

Percival coloured, and, shall we own it ? was boy enough to double 
his fist. Little would he have been deterred by the brawn of those 
great arms and the girth of that Herculean chest, if he had been quite 
sure that it was a proper thing to resent pugilistically so discourteous 
a monosyllable. The " tush I" stuck greatly in his throat. But the 
man, now removed to the farther verge of the hill, looked so tranquil 
and so lost in thought, that the short-lived anger died. 

"And after all, if I was as poor as he looks, I dare say I should be 

i'ust as proud," muttered Percival. " However, it's his own fault if 
le goes to London on foot, when I might, at least, have given him a 
lift. Come, Beau, sir." 

With his face still a little flushed, and his hat unconsciously cocked 
fiercely on one side, Percival sauntered back to his britska. 

As in a whirl of dust, the light carnage was borne by the four 
posters down the hill, the pedestrian turned for an instant from the 
view before to the cloud behind, and muttered — " Ay, a fine prospect 
for the rich— a noble field for the poor !" The tone in which those 



tUCRETIA. I4X 

words were said told volumes ; there, spoke the pride, the hope, the 
energy, the ambition, which make youth laborious, manhood pios- 
perous, age renowned. 

The stranger then threw himself on the sward, and continued his 
silent and intent contemplation till the clouds grew red in the west. 
When, then, he rose, his eye was bright, his mien erect, and a smile 
playing round his firm full lips stole the moody sternness from his hard 
lace. Throwing his knapsack once more on his back, John Ardwortk 
went resolutely on to the great vortex. 



CHAPTER L 

THE CORONATION. 

The eighth of September, 1831, was a holiday in London. William 
the Fourth received the crown of his ancestors in that mighty church, 
in which the most impressive monitors to human pomp are the monu- 
ments of the dead : the dust of conquerors and statesmen, of the wise 
heads and the bold hands that had guarded the thrones of departed 
kings, slept around; and the great men of the Modern time were 
assembled in homage to the monarch, to whom the prowess and the 
liberty of generations had bequeathed an empire in which the sun 
never sets. In theAbbey — thinking little of the past, caring little 
for the future — the immense audience gazed eagerly on the pageant 
that occurs but once in that division of history — the lifetime of a 
king. The assemblage was brilliant and imposing. The galleries 
sparkled with the gems of women who still upheld the celebrity For 
form and feature, which, from the remotest times, has been awarded 
to the great English race. Below, in their robes and coronets, were men 
who neither in the senate nor the field have shamed their fathers. 
Conspicuous amongst all, for grandeur of mien and stature, towered 
the brothers of the king; while commanding yet more the universal 
gaze, were seen, here the eagle features of the old hero of Waterloo, 
sud there the majestic brow of the haughty statesman who was 
leading the people (while the last of the Bourbons, whom Waterloo 
Jiad restored to the Tuileries, had left the orb and purple to the 
kindred house, so fatal to his name) through a stormy and perilous 
transition to a bloodless revolution and a new charter. 

Tier upon tier, in the division set apart for them, the members of 
the Lower House moved and murmured above the pageant ; and the 
coronation of the new sovereign was connected in their minds with the 

freat measure, which, still undecided, made at that time a link 
etween the People and the King ; and arrayed against both, if not, 
indeed, the real Aristocracy, at least the Chamber recognised by the 
Constitution as its representative. Without the space, was one dense 
mass. Houses, from balcony to balcony, window to window, were 
filled as some immense theatre. Up, through the long thoroughfare 



lit IjuCOETIA. 

to "Whitehall, tlie eye saw that audience— A people ; and the gaxa 
was bounded at the spot where Charles the First had passed from 
the banquet-house to the scaffold. 

The ceremony was over ; the procession had swept slowly by ; the 
last huzza had died away. And, after staring awhile upon Orator 
Hunt, who had clambered up the iron palisade near Westminster 
Hall, to exhibit his goodly person in his court attire, the serried 
crowds, hurrying from the shower which then unseasonably descended,, 
broke into large masses or lengthening columns. 

In that part of London which may be said to form a boundary 
between its old and its new world, by which, on the one hand, you 
pass to Westminster, or through that gorge of the Strand, which leads 
along endless rows of shops that have grown up on the sites of the 
ancient halls of the Salisburys and theExeters, the Buckinghams and 
Southamptons, to the heart of the City, built around the primeval 
palace of the "'Tower," — while, on the other hand you pass into the 
new city of aristocracy and letters, of art and fashion, embracing the 
whilom chase of Marylebone, and the once sedge-grown waters of Pim- 
lico ; — by this ignoble boundary (the crossing from the Opera House, 
at the bottom of the Haymarket to the commencement of Charing 
Cross), stood a person whose discontented countenance was in singular 
contrast with the general gaiety and animation of the day. This person, 
O gentle reader — this sour, querulous, discontented person — was a 
king, too, in his own walk ! None might dispute it. He feared no 
rebel ; he was harassed by no reform ; he ruled without ministers, tools 
he had ; but, when worn out, he replaced them without a pension or a 
sigh. He lived by taxes — but they were voluntary ; and his Civil List 
was supplied, without demand for the redress of grievances. This per- 
son, nevertheless — not deposed, was suspended from his empire for the 
day. He was pushed aside ; he was forgotten. He was not distinct 
from the crowd. Like Titus, he had lost a day — his vocation was 
gone. This person was the Sweeper of the Crossing ! 

He was a character ! He was young, in the fairest prime of youth; 
but it was the face of an old man on young shoulders. His hair was 
long, thin, and prematurely streaked with grey ; his face was pale, 
and deeply furrowed ; his eyes hollow, and their stare gleamed, cold 
and stolid, under his bent and shaggy brows. The figure was at once 
fragile and ungainly — and the narrow shoulders curved in a perpetual 
stoop. It was a person once noticed that you would easily remem- 
ber, and associate with some undefined, painful impression. The 
manner was humble, but not meek ; the voice was whining, but with- 
out pathos. There was a meagre, passionless dulness about the 
aspect, though, at times, it quickened into a kind of avid acuteness. 
No one knew by what human parentage this personage came into the 
world. He had been reared by the charity of a stranger, crept 
through childhood, and misery, and rags mysteriously ; and suddenly 
succeeded an old defunct negro in the profitable crossing whereat he 
is now standing. All education was unknown to him, so was all love. 
In those festive haunts at St. Giles's, where he who would see "Life 
in London" may often discover the boy who has held his horse in the 
morning, dancing merrily with his chosen damsel at night, our 



UJCRTSTIA. 144 

sweeper 's character was austere as Charles the Twelfth's ! And the 
pooi creature had his good qualities ! He was sensitively alive te» 
kindness— little enough had been shown him to make the luxury 
the more prized from its rarity ! — though fond of money, he would 
part with it (we do not say cheerfully, But part with it still), not to 
mere want, indeed (for he had been too pinched and starved himself, 
and had grown too obtuse to pinching and to starving for the sensitive- 
ness that prompts to charity), but to any of his companions who had 
done him a good service, or wlio had even warmed his dull heart by a 
friendly smile ; he was honest, too — honest to the backbone. You 
might have trusted him with gold untold. Through the heavy clod 
which man's care had not moulded, nor books enlightened, nor the 
priest's solemn lore informed, still natural rays from the great parent 
source of Deity struggled, fitful and dim. He had no lawful name ; 
none knew if sponsors had ever stood security for his sins at the 
sacred fount. But he had christened himself by the strange, unchris- 
tianlike name of " Beck." There he was, then, seemingly without 
origin, parentage, or kindred tie— a lonesome, squalid, bloodless 
thing, which the great monster, London, _ seemed to have spawned' 
forth of its own self— one of its sickly, miserable, rickety offspring, 
whom it puts out at nurse to Penury, at school to Starvation, and> 
finally, and literally, gives them stones for bread, with the option or 
the gallows or the dunghill, when the desperate offspring calls on the 
giant mother for return and home ! 

And this creature did love something— loved, perhaps, some fellow- 
being— of that hereafter, when we dive into the secrets of his privacy. 
Meanwhile, openly and frankly, he loved his crossing ; he was proud 
of his crossing ; he was grateful to his crossing. God help thee, sou 
of t he street, why not ! He had in it a double affection ; that of serving 
.and being served. He kept the crossing — if the crossing kept him. He 
smiled at times to himself when he saw it lie fair and brilliant amidst the 
mire around; it bestowed on himasense of property ! What a man may 
feel for a fine estate in a ring fence, Beck felt for that isthmus of the 
kennel which was subject to his broom ! The Coronation had made 
one rebellious spirit, when it swept the sweeper from his crossing. 

He stood then half under the colonnade of the Opera House, as the 
crowd now rapidly grew thinner and more scattered : and when the 
last carriage of a long string of vehicles had passed by, he muttered 
audibly — 

" It'll take a deal of pains to make she right agin !" 

" So you be's ere to-clay, Beck ! " said a ragamuffin boy, who push- 
ing and scrambling through his betters, now halted, and wiped his 
forehead as he looked at the sweeper. " Vy, ve are all out pleasuring. 
Vy vont you come with ve ? — lots of fun ! " 

The sweeper scowled at the urchin, and made no answer, but began 
sedulously to apply himself to the crossing. 

"Vy, there isn't another sweep in the streets, Beck. His Majesty 
King Bill's currynation makes all on us so appy ! " 

" It has made she unkimmon dirty !" returned Beck,point,ing to toe- 
dingy crossing, scarce distinguished from the rest of tie road. 

The ragamuffin laughed. 



<146 MTCICETIA. 

"But ve be's goin' to ave Reform now, Beck. The peopul's to 
have their rights and libties, hand the luds is to be put down, hand 
betfstakes is to be a penny a pound, and " 

"What good will that do to she?" 

" Vy, man, ve shall take turn about, and sum vun helse will svecp 
"the crossings, and ve shall ride in sum vun helse's coach and four 
prads — cos vy ? ve shall hall be hequals ! " 

" Hequals ! I tells you vot, if you keeps jawing there, atween me 
and she, I shall vop you, Joe — cos vy — I be's the higgest !" was the 
answer of Beck the sweeper to Joe the ragamuffin. 

The jovial Joe laughed aloud, snapped his fingers, threw_ up his 
ragged cap with a shout for King Bill, and set off scampering and 
whooping to join those festivities which Beck had so churlishly dis- 
dained. 

Time crept on — evening began to close in, and Beck was still at his 
crossing, when a young gentleman on horseback, who, after seeing 
the procession, haa stolen away for a quiet ride in the suburbs, reined 
in close by the crossing, and, looking round, as for some one to hold 
his horse, could discover no loiterer worthy that honour except the 
-solitary Beck. So young was the rider, that he seemed still a boy. 
On his smooth countenance, all that most prepossesses in early youth 
left its witching stamp. A smile, at once gay and sweet, played on 
his lips. There was a charm, even in a certain impatient petulance, 
in his quick eye, and the slight contraction of his delicate brows. 
ALnaviva might well have been jealous of such a page ! He was the 
beau ideal of Cherubino. He held up his whip, with an arch sign, to 
the sweeper. _ " Follow, my man," he said, in a tone, the very com- 
mand of which sounded gentle, so blithe was the movement of the 
lips, and so silvery the easy accent ; and without waiting, he cantered 
carelessly down Pall Mall. 

The sweeper cast a rueful glance at his melancholy domain. But 
he had gained but little that day, and the offer was too tempting to 
be rejected. He heaved a sigh, shouldered his broom, and murmuring 
to himself that he would give her a last brush before he retired for 
the night, he put his long limbs into that swinging, shambling trot, 
which characterises the motion of those professional jackals, who, 
having once caught sight of a groomless rider, fairly hunt him down, 
and appear when he least expects it, the instant he dismounts. 

The young rider lightly swung himself from his sleek high-bred 
grey, at the door of one of the clubs in St. James's Street, patted his 
horse's neck, chucked the rein to the sweeper, and sauntered into the 
house, whistling musically — if not from want of thought, certainly 
from want of care. 

As he entered the club, two or three men, young, indeed, but much 
older, to appearance at least, than himself, who were dining together 
at the same table, nodded to him their friendly greeting. 

" Ah, Perce," said one, "we have only just sat down — here is a seat 
for you." 

The boy blushed shyly, as he accepted the proposal, and the young 
men made room for him at the table, with a smiling alacrity which 
-showed that his shyness was no hinderance to his popularity. 



LUCRETL4. 147 

" Who," said an elderly dandy, dining apart with one of his con- 
temporaries— " who is that lad? One ought not to admit such mere 
boys into the club." 

He is the only surviving son of an old friend of ours," answered 
the other, dropping his eye-glass. " Younjr Percival St. John." 

"St, John! What! Vernon St. John's son P " 

"Yes." 

" lie has not his father's good air. These young fellows have a 
tone — a something — a want of self-possession, eh ? " 

" Very true. The fact is, that Percival was meant for the navy, 
and even served as a mid. for a year or so. He was a younger soil 
then— third, I think. The two elder ones died, and Master Percival 
walked into the inheritance. I don't think he is quite of age 
yet," 

" Of age ! he does not look seventeen ! " 

" Oh, he is more than that ! I remember him in his jacket at 
Laughton. A fine property ! " 

" Ay, I don't wonder those fellows are so civil to him. This claret 
is corked ! — everything is so bad at this d — d club ! — no wonder, 
when a troop of boys are let in ! — enough to spoil any club— don't 
know Larose from Lafitte. Waiter \ " 

Meanwhile, the talk round the table at which sat Percival St. 
John, was animated, lively, and various — the talk common with young 
idlers ; of horses, and steeple-chases, and opera-dancers, and reigning 
beauties, and good-humoured jests at each other. In all this babble, 
there was a freshness about Percival St. John's conversation, which 
showed that, as yet, for him life had the zest of novelty. He was 
more at home about horses and steeple-chases, than about opera- 
dancers, and beauties, and the small scandals of town. Talk on these 
latter topics did not seem to interest liim ; on the contrary, almost to 
pain. Shy and modest as a girl, he coloured or looked aside when his 
more hardened friends boasted of assignations and love-affairs. 
Spirited, gay, and manly enough in all really manly points, the virgin 
bloom of innocenoe was yet visible in his frank charming manner. 
And often, out of respect for his delicacy, some hearty son of pleasure 
stopped short in his narrative, or lost the point of his anecdote ; and 
yet so loveable was Percival in his good humour, his naivete, his joyous 
entrance into innocent joy, that his companions were scarcely con- 
scious of the gene and restraint he imposed on _ them. Those merry, 
dark eyes, and that flashing smile, were conviviality of themselves. 
They brought with them a contagious cheerfulness, which compen- 
sated for the want of corruption. 

Night had set in. St. John's companions had departed to their 
several haunts, and Percival himself stood on the steps of the club, 
resolving that he would join the crowds that swept through the streets 
to gaze on the illuminations, when he perceived Beck (still at the 
rein of his dozing horse), whom he had quite forgot till that moment. 
Laughing at his own want of memory, Percival put some silver into 
Beck's hand — more silver than Beck had ever before received for 
•imilar service — and said : 

" Well, my man, I suppose I can trust you to take my horse to hi» 



145 LUCKETIA. 

stables— No. — , the Mews, behind Curzon-street. Poor fellow, ho 
wants his supper,— and you, too, I suppose ! " 

Beck smiled — a pale hungry smile, and pulled his forelor.k politely 
- " I can take the oss werry safely, your onor." 

" Take \]xn, then, and good evening ; but don't get on. for your 
life." 

" Oh no, sir ; I never gets on : 'taint in my vays." 

And Beck slowly led the horse through the crowd, till he vanished 
from Percival's eyes. 

Just then, a man passing through the street paused as he saw the 
young gentleman on the steps of the club, and said, gaily, " Ah ; 'how 
do you do ? Pretty faces in plenty out to-night ! "Which way are you 
going?" _ 

" That is more than I can tell you, Mr. Varney. I was just think- 
ing which turn to take — the right or the left." 

" Then let me be your guide ;" and Varney offered his arm. 

Percival accepted the courtesy ; and the two walked on towards 
Piccadilly. Many a kind glance from the milliners and maid-servants, 
whom the illuminations^ drew abroad, roved, somewhat impartially, 
towards St. John and his companion ; but they dwelt longer on the 
last, for there, at least, they were sure of a return. _ Varney, if not in 
his first youth, was still in the prime of life ; and Time had dealt with 
him so leniently, that he retained all the personal advantages of 
youth itself. His complexion still was clear ; and as only his upper 
lip, decorated with a slight silken and well-trimmed moustache, was 
unshaven, the contour of the face added to the juvenility of his 
appearance by the rounded symmetry it betrayed. His hair escaped 
from his hat m fair unchanged luxuriance. And the nervous figure, 
agile as a panther's, though broad-shouldered and deep-chested, 
denoted all the slightness and elasticity of twenty-five, combined 
with the muscular power of forty. His dress was rather fantastic — 
too showy for the good taste which is habitual to the English gentle- 
man — and there was a peculiarity in his gait almost approaching to a 
strut, which bespoke a desire of effect — a consciousness of persona,': 
advantages — equally opposed to the mien and manner of Percival' 3 
usual companions ; yet withal, even the most fastidious would have 
hesitated to apply to Gabriel Varney the epithet of " vulgar." Many 
turned to look again ; but it was not to remark the dress, or the 
slight swagger :— an expression of reckless, sinister power in the 
countenance — something of vigour and determination even in that 
very walk, foppish as it would have been in most, made you sink 
all observation of the mere externals, in a sentiment of curiosity 
towards the man himself. He seemed a somebody — not a somebody 
of conventional rank, but a somebody of personal individuality — an 
artist perhaps, a poet, or a soldier in some foreign service, but cer- 
tainly a man whose name you would expect to have heard of. 
Amongst the common mob of passengers he stood out in marked and 
distinct relief. 

" I feel at home in a crowd," said Varney, " Do you understand 
meP" 



MJCKETTA. 149 

"' 1 think so," answered Pcreiv;d. " If ever I could become dis- 
tinguished, I, too, should feci at home in a crowd." 

'' You have ambition, then? you mean to become distinguished? j ' 
usked Varney, with a sharp, searching look. 

There was a deeper and steadier flash than usual from Percival's 
dark eye*., and a manlier glow over his cheek, at Varney's ques- 
tion. Put he was slow in answering ; and when he did so, his 
manner had all its wonted mixture of graceful bashfulness and gay 
candour. 

'' Our rise does not always depend on ourselves. We are not all 
bom great, nor do we all have ' greatness thrust on us.' " 

" One can be what one likes, with your fortune," said Varney; 
and there was a growl of envy in his voice. 

'"' What, be a painter like you ! Ha, ha !" 

" Faith," said Varney, " at least, if you could paint at all, you would 
have what I have not — praise and fame." 

Percival pressed kindly onVarney's arm. "Courage! you will 
get justice some day !" 

Varney shook his head. " Bah ! there is no such thing as justice ; 
all are underrated or overrated. Can you name one man whom you 
t hink is estimated by the public at his precise value ? As for present- 
popularity, it depends on two qualities — each singly, or both united 
— cowardice and charlatanism ; that is, servile compliance with the 
taste and opinion of the moment, or a quack's spasmodic efforts at 
originality. But why bore you on such matters ! There are things 
more attractive round us. A good ancle that, eh ? Why, pardon 
me, it is strange ; but you don't seem to care much for women ?" 

" Oh yes,_ I do," said Percival, with a sly demureness. " I am 
very fond of — my mother !" 

" Aery proper and filial," said Varney, laughing ; " and does your 
love for the sex stop there ?" 

" Well, and in truth I fancy so— pretty nearly. You know my 
grandmother is not alive ! But that is something really worth look- 
ing at !" And Percival pointed, almost with a child's delight, at an 
illumination more brilliant than the rest. 

" I suppose, when you come of age, you will have all the cedars at 
Laughton hung with coloured lamps. Ah, you must ask me there, 
some day. I should so like to see the old place again." 

'"' You never saw it, I think you say, in my poor father's time ? " 

" Never." 

" Yet vou knew him." 

" But'slightly." 

" And you never saw my mother ? " 

" No ; but she seems to have such influence over you, Uiat 1 
am sure she must be a very superior person — rather pioud, I 
suppose." 

" Proud — no ; that is, not exactly proud, for she is very meek and 
very affable. But yet " 

" But vet — you hesitate — she would not hke you to be seen, per- 
haps, walking in Piccadilly with Gabriel Varney, the natural son of 



150 LTJCP.ETIA. 

old Sir Miles's librarian, — Gabriel Varney the painter- Gabriel Var- 
ney the adventurer !" 

" As long as Gabriel Varney is a man ■without stain on his charac- 
ter and honour, my mother would only be pleased that I should know 
an able and accomplished person, whatever his origin or parentage. 
But my mother would be sad if she knew me intimate with a Bourbon 
or a Raffaelle, the first in rank or the first in genius, if either prince 
or artist had lost or even sullied his 'scutcheon of gentleman. In a 
word, she is most sensitive as to honour and conscience — all else she 
disregards." 

" Hem !" Varney stooped down, as if examining the polish of his 
boot, while he continued, carelessly—" Impossible to walk the streets 
and keep one's boots out of the mire ! Well — and you agree with 
your mother?" 

" It would be strange if I did not. When I was scarcely four 
years old, my poor father used to lead me through the long picture- 
gallery at Laughton, and say, ' Walk through life as if those brave 
gentlemen looked down on you.' And," added St. John with his 
ingenuous smile — " my mother would put in her word — ' And those 
unstained women too, my Percival ! ' " 

There was something noble and touching in the boy's low accents 
as he said this ; it gave the key to his unusual modesty, and his frank, 
healthful innocence of character. 

The devil in Varney's lip sneered mockingly. 

" My young friend, you have never loved yet. — Do you think yon 
ever shall?" 

" I have dreamed that I could love one day. But I can wait." 

Varney was about to reply, when he was accosted abruptly by three 
men of that exaggerated style of dress and manner, which is implied 
by the vulgar appellation of " Tigrish." Each of the three men had 
a cigar in his mouth — each seemed flushed with wine. One wore 
long brass spurs, and immense moustaches ; another was distin- 
guished by an enormous surface of black satin cravat, across which 
meandered a Pactolus of gold chain ; a third had his coat laced and 
braided, a la Polonaise, and pinched and padded a la Busse, with 
trousers shaped to the calf of a sinewy leg, and a glass screwed into 
his right eye. 

"Ah, Gabriel! — ah, Varney! — ah, prince of good fellows, well 
met ! You sup with us to-night at little Celeste's — we were going in 
search of you." 

" Who's your friend — one of us ?" whispered a second. 

And the third screwed his arm tight and lovingly into Varney's. 

Gabriel, despite his habitual assurance, looked abashed for a 
moment, and would have extricated himself from cordialities not at 
that moment welcome ; but he saw that his friends were too far gone 
in their cups to be easily shaken off, and he felt relieved when 
Percival, after a dissatisfied glance at the three, said, quietly — 
" I must detain you no longer — I shall soon look in at your studio ;" 
and, without waiting for answer, slid off, and was lost among the 
crowd. 

Varney walked on with his nev found friends, unheeding for some 



LUCHETIA. 151 

moments their loose remarks and familiar banter. At length he 
shook off his abstraction, and surrendering himself to the coarse 
humours of his companions, soon eclipsed them all by the gusto of 
his slang, and the mocking profligacy of his sentiments ; for here he 
no longer played a part, or suppressed his grosser instincts. That 
uncurbed dominion of the senses, to which his very boyhood had aban- 
doned itself, found a willing slave in the man. Even the talents 
themselves that he displayed came from the cultivation of the sensual. 
His eye, studying externals, made him a painter, — his ear, quick and 
practised, a musician. His wild, prodigal fancy noted on every excite- 
ment, and brought him in a vast narvest of experience in knowledge 
of the frailties and the vices on which it indulged its vagrant experi- 
ments. Men who over-cultivate the art that connects itself with the 
senses, with little counterpoise from the reason and pure intellect, are 
apt to be dissipated and irregular in their lives. This is frequently 
noticeable in the biographies of musicians, singers, and painters ; less 
so in poets, because he who deals with words, not signs and tones, 
must perpetually compare his senses with the pure images of which 
the senses only see the appearances ; in a word, he must employ his 
intellect, and nis self-education must be large and comprehensive. 
But with most real genius, however fed merely by the senses, — most 
really great painters, singers, and musicians, however easily led astray 
into temptation, the richness of the soil throws up abundant good 
qualities to countervail or redeem the evil ; they are usually compas- 
sionate, generous, sympathising. That Varney nad not such beauties 
of soul and temperament it is unnecessary to add, — principally, it is 
true, because of his nurture, education, parental example, the utter 
corruption in which his chddhood and *-outh had passed, — partly 
because he had no real genius; it was a false apparition of the divine 
spirit, reflected from the exquisite perfection of his frame (which ren- 
dered all his senses so vigorous and acute), and his riotous fancy, and 
his fitful energy, which was capable at times of great application, 
but not of definite purpose or earnest study. All about him was 
flashy and hollow. He had not the natural subtlety and depth of mind 
that had characterised his terrible father. The graft of the opera- 
dancer was visible on the stock of the scholar ; wholly without the 
habits of method and order, without the patience, without the mathe- 
matical calculating brain of Dalibard, he played wantonly with the 
horrible and loathsome wickedness of which Olivier had made dark 
and solemn study. Extravagant and lavish, he spent money as fast 
as he gained it ; he threw away all chances of eminence and career. 
In the midst of the direst plots of his villany, or the most energetic 
pursuit of his art, the poorest excitement, the veriest bauble would 
draw him aside. His heart was with Ealn in the sty, his fancy with 
A ladd in in the palace. To make a show was his darling object ; he 
loved to create effect by his percon, his talk, his dress, as well as by 
his talents. Living from hand to mouth, crimes, through which it is 
not our intention to follow him, had at times made him rich to-day. 
for vices to make him poor again to-morrow. What he called " luck, 
or "his star," had favoured him— he teas not hanged! — he lived : and, 
as the greater part of his unscrupulous career had been conducted in 



i'SS LUCEET1A 

foreign lands, and under oilier names— in his own name, and m his 
own country, though something scarcely to he defined, but equivoca_ 
and provocative of suspicion, made him displeasing to the prudent, 
and vaguely alarmed the experience of the sober, — still no positive 
accusation was attached to trie general integrity of his character ; and 
tne mere dissipation of his habits was naturally little known out of 
his familiar circle. Hence, he had the most presumptuous confidence 
in himself — a confidence native to his courage, and confirmed by his 
experience. His conscience was so utterly obtuse, that he might 
almost be said to present the phenomenon of a man without con- 
science at all. Unlike ponrad, he did not "know himself a villain;" 
all that he knew of himself was, that he was a remarkably clever 
fellow, without prejudice or superstition. That, with all his gifts, he 
had not succeeded better in life, he ascribed carelessly to the sur- 
passing wisdom of his philosophy. He could have done better if he 
had enjoyed himself less ; but was not enjoyment the be all and end 
all of this little life ? More often, indeed, 'in the moods of Ms bitter 
envy, he would lay the fault upon the world. How great he could 
have been, if l\e had been rich and high-born ! Oh, he was made to 
spend, not to save — to command, not to fawn ! He was not formed 
to plod through the dull mediocrities of fortune ; he must toss up for 
the AH or the Nothing ! It was no control over himself that made 
Varney now turn his thoughts from certain grave designs on Percival 
St. John, to the brutal debauchery of his three companions,— rather, 
he then yielded most to his natural self. And when the morning star 
rose over the night he passed with low profligates and venal nymphs, 
— when, over the fragments on the board, and emptied bottles, and 
drunken riot, dawn gleamed and. saw him in all the pride of his mag- 
nificent organisation, and the cynicism of his measured vice, — fair, 
fresh, and blooming amidst those maudlin eyes, and flushed cheeks, 
and reeling figures, — laughing hideously over the spectacle he had 
provoked, and kicking aside, with a devil's scorn, the prostrate form 
of the favoured partner whose head had rested on his bosom, as alone, 
with a steady step, he passed the threshold, and walked into the fresh 
healthful air — Gabriel Varney enjoyed the fell triumph of his 
hell-horn vanity, and revelled in his sentiment of superiority and 
power. 

Meanwhile, on quitting Varney, young Percival strolled on as the 
whim directed him. Turning down the Haymarket, he gained the 
colonnade of the Opera House. The crowd there was so dense, that 
his footsteps were arrested, and he leant against one of the columns 
in admiration of the various galaxies in view. In front blazed the 
rival stars of the United Service Club and the Athenssum, — to the 
left, the quaint and peculiar device which lighted up Northumberland 
House, — to the right, the anchors, cannons, and bombs which typified 
ingeniously the martial attributes of the Ordnance Office. 

At that moment there were three persons connected with this nar- 
rative within a few feet of each other, distinguished from the multi- 
tude by the feelings with which each regarded the scene, and felt the 
jostle of the crowd. Percival St. John, in whom the harmless sense 
of pleasure was yet vivid and unsatiated, caught from the assemblage 



i,vcR*/riA. 158 

only tint physical hilarity which heightened his own spirits. If in a 
character as yet so undeveloped, to which the large passions and stem 
ends of life were as vet unknown, stirred some deeper and more musing 
thoughts and speculations, giving gravity to the habitual smile on his 
rosy lip, and steadying the play of his sparkling eyes, he would 
have been at a loss himself to explain the dim sentiment and the 
vague desire. 

Screened by another column from the pressure of the mob, with his 
aims folded on his breast, a man some few years older in point of 
time — nianv years older in point of character — gazed (with thoughts 
how turbulent — with ambition how profound !) upon the dense and 
dark masses that covered space and street far as the eye could reach. 
He, indeed, could not have said, with Vamey, that he was " at home 
in a crowd." For a crowd did not fill him with the sense of his own 
individual being and importance, but grappled him to its mighty 
breast with the thousand tissues of a common destiny. Who shall 
explain and disentangle those high, and restless, and interwoven emo- 
tions with which intellectual ambition, honourable and ardent, gazes 
upon that solemn thing with which, in which, for which it lives and 
laoours — the Human Multitude? To that abstracted, solitary man, 
the illumination, the festivity, the curiosity, the holiday, were nothing, 
or but as fleeting phantoms and vain seemings. In his heart's eye, 
he saw before him out the people, the shadow of an everlasting audi- 
ence — audience at once and judge. 

And literally touching hmi as he stood, the ragged sweeper, who 
had returned in vain to devote a last care to his beloved charge, stood 
arrested with the rest, gazing joylessly on the blazing lamps, dead as 
the stones he heeded, to the young vivacity of the one man, the 
solemn visions of the other. So, London, amidst the universal 
holiday to monarch and to mob, in those three souls lived the three ele- 
ments, which duly mingled and administered, make thy vice and thy 
virtue — thy glory and thy shame — thy labour and thy luxury ; per- 
vading the palace and the street — the hospital and the prison ; — enjoy- 
ment, which is pleasure — energy, which is action— torpor, which is 
want! 



CHAPTER H. 

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. 

Suddenly across the gaze of Percival St. John there flashed a face 
that woke him from his abstraction, as a light awakes the sleeper. _ It 
was as a recognition of something seen dimly before — a truth coming 
out from a dream. It was not the mere beauty of that face (ana 
beautiful it was) that arrested his eye and made Ms heart beat more 
quickly — it was rather that nameless and inexplicable sympathy which 
constitutes love at first sight ; — a sort of impulse and instinct common 
to the dullest as the quickest— the hardest reason as the liveliest 



154 LUCJlEflA, 

fancy. Plain Cobbett, seeing before the cottage-door, at her home- 
liest of house-work, the girl of whom he said — " That girl should be 
my wife ;" and Dante, first thrilled by the vision of Beatrice, are alike 
true_ types of a common experience : Whatever of love sinks the deep- 
est is felt at first sight ; it streams on us abrupt from the cloud, a 
lightning flash — a destiny revealed to us face to face. 

Now, there was nothing poetical in the place or the circumstance, 
still less in the companionship in which this fair creature startled the 
virgin heart of that careless boy ; she was leaning on the arm of a 
stout, rosy-faced matron in a puce-coloured gown, who was flanked on 
the other side by a very small, very spare man, with a very wee face, 
the _ lower part of which was enveloped in an immense belcher. 
Besides these two incumbrances, the stout lady contrived to carry 
in her hands an umbrella, a basket, and a pair of pattens. 

In the midst of the strange, unfamiliar emotion which his eye con- 
veyed to his heart, Percival's ear was displeasingly jarred by the loud, 
bluff, hearty voice of the girl's female companion — 

" Gracious me ! if that is not John Ardworth ; who'd have thought 
it ! Why John — I say, John !" and lifting her umbrella horizontally, 
she poked aside two city clerks in front of her, wheeled round the 
little man on her left, upon whom the clerks simultaneously bestowed 
the appellation of " feller," and driving him, as being the sharpest and 
thinnest wedge at hand, through a dense knot of some half a dozen 
gapers, while following his involuntary progress she looked defiance 
on the malcontents, she succeeded in clearing her way to the spot 
where stood the young man she had discovered. The ambitious 
dreamer, for it was he, thus detected and disturbed, looked embar- 
rassed for a moment, as the stout lady, touching him with the umbrella, 
said, 

" Well, I declare, if this is not too bad ! You sent word that you 
should not be able to come out with us to see the 'luminations, and 
here you are as large as life ! " 

" I did not think at the moment you wrote to me, that " 

" Oh, stuff ! " interrupted the stout woman, with a significant, good- 
humoured shake of her head, " I know what's what ; tell the truth, 
and shame the gentleman who objects to showing his feet. You are 
a wild fellow, John Ardworth — you are ! you like looking after the 
pretty faces — yon do — you do — ha, ha, ha ! very natural ! So did you 
once — did not you, Mr. Mivers — did not you, eh ? men must be men 
—they always are men, and it's my belief that men they always will 
be ! " 

With this sage conjecture into the future ; the lady turned to 
Mr. Mivers, who thus appealed to, extricated with some difficulty his 
chin from the folds of his belcher, and putting up his small face, said, 
in a small voice, " Yes, I was a wild fellow once, but you have tamed 
me ! you have, Mrs. M." 

And therewith the chin sunk again into the belcher, and the small 
voice died into a small sigh. 

The stout lady glanced benignly at her spouse, and then resuming 
her address, to which Ardworth listened with a half-frown and a hali'- 
smile, observed encouragingly— 



LCCRETIA. I5S 

" Yes, there's nothing like a lawful wife, to break a man in, as you 
will find some day. Howsomever, your time's not come for the Altar, 
bo suppose you give Helen your arm, and come with us." 

" Do," said Helen, in a sweet, coaxing voice. 

Ardworth bent down his rough earnest face to Helen's, and an 
evident pleasure relaxed its thoughtful lines. " I cannot resist you," 
he began, and then he paused and frowned. " Pish," he added, "I was 
talking folly ; but what head would not you turn ? Resist you I must, 
for I am on my way now to my drudgery. Ask me anything, some 
years hence, when I have time to be happy, and then see if I am the 
bear you now call me." 

" Well," said Mrs. Mivers, emphatically, " are you coming, or are 
you not ? Don't stand there, shilly-shally." 

" Mrs. Mivers," returned Ardworth, with a kind of sly humour, " I 
am sure you would be very angry with your husband's excellent shop- 
men, if that was the way they spoke to your customers. If some 
unhappy dropper-in — some lady who came to buy a yard or so of 
Irish, was suddenly dazzled, as I am, by a luxury wholly unforeseen 
and eagerly coveted — a splendid lace veil, or a ravishing cashmere, or 
whatever else you ladies desiderate, and while she was balancing 
betweeen prudence and temptation, your foreman exclaimed — ' Don't 
stand shillv-shally ,'— come, I put it to you." 

"Stuff!" said Mrs. Mivers. 

" Alas ! unlike your imaginary customer (I hope so, at least, for the 
sake of your till) — prudence getsthe better of me ; unless," added 
Ardworth, irresolutely, and glancing at Helen — " unless, indeed, you 
are not sufficiently protected, and " 

"Purtected!" exclaimed Mrs. Mivers, in an indignant tone of 
astonishment, and agitating the formidable umbrella, " as if I was not 
enough, with the help of this here domestic commodity, to purtect a 
dozen such. Purtected, indeed ! " 

" John is right, Mrs. M. ; business is business," said Mr. Mivers. 
" Let us move on — we stop the way, and those idle lads are listening 
to us, and sniggering." 

" Sniggering ! " exclaimed the gentle helpmate ; " 1 should like to 
see those who presume for to snigger ;" and as she spoke she threw a 
look of defiance around her. Then, having thus satisfied her resent- 
ment, she prepared toobey, as no doubt she always did, her lord and 
master. Suddenly, with a practised movement, she wheeled round 
Mr. Mivers, and taking care to protrude before him the sharp point 
of the umbrella, cut her way through the crowd like the scythed car 
of the ancient Britons, and was soon lost amidst the throng, although 
her way might be guessed by a slight ripple of peculiar agitation along 
the general stream, accompanied by a prolonged murmur of reproach 
or expostulation which gradually died in the distance. 

Ardworth gazed after the fair form of Helen with a look of regret ; 
and, when it vanished, — with a slight start and a suppressed sigh, he 
turned away, and with, the long, steady stride of a strong man, cleared 
}us path through the Strand, towards the printing-office of a journal 
on. which he was responsibly engaged. 

But PercivaL who had caught much of the con"ersation that took 



156 LTJORSTr*. 

place so near him— Percival, happy child of idleness and whim, had 
no motive of labour and occupation to stay the free impulse of his 
heart, and his heart drew him on, with magnetic attraction, in the 
track of the first being that had ever touched the sweet instincts of 
youth. 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mivers was destined to learn — though, perhaps, 
the lesson little availed her — that to get smoothly through this world 
it is necessary to be supple as well as strong ; and though, up to a 
c-ertain point, man or woman may force the way by poking umbrellas 
into people's ribs, and treading mercilessly upon people's toes, yet the 
endurance of ribs and toes has its appointed limits. 

Helen, half terrified, also half amused by her companion's robust 
resolution of purpose, had in Mrs. Mivers' general courage and suc- 
cess that confidence which the weak repose in the strong ; and though, 
whenever she turned her eyes from the illuminations, she besought 
Mrs. Mivers to be more gentle, yet, seeing that they had gone safely 
from St. Paul's to St. James's, she had no distinct apprehension of any 
practically ill results from the energies she was unable to mitigate. 
But now, having just gained the end of St. James's Street, Mrs. 
Mivers at last found her match. The crowd here halted, thick and 
serried, to gaze in peace upon the brilliant vista which the shops and 
clubs of that street presented. Coaches and carriages had paused 
in their line, and immediately before Mrs. Mivers stood three very 
thin small women, whose dress bespoke them to be of the humblest 
class. 

"Make way, there — make way, my good women, make way!" 
cried Mrs. Mivers, equally disdainful of the size and the rank of the 
obstructing parties. 

" Arrah, and what shall we make way for the like of you, you old 
busy-body ? " said one of the dames, turning round, and presenting a 
very formidable squint to the broad optics of Mrs. Mivers. 

Without deigning a reply, Mrs. Mivers had recourse to her usual 
tactics. Umbrella and husband went right between two of the femi- 
nine obstructives ; and to the inconceivable astonishment and horror 
of the assailant, husband and umbrella instantly vanished. The three 
small furies had pounced upon both. They were torn from their 
natural owner — they were hurried away ; the stream behind, long 
fretted at the path so abruptly made amidst it, closed in, joyous with 
a thousand waves. Mrs. Mivers and Helen were borne forward in one 
way. the umbrella and the husband in the other : at the distance a 
small voice was heard — " Don't you ! — don't ! Be quiet ! Mrs. — 
Mrs. M. ! Oh ! oh ! Mrs. M. ! " At that last repetition of the 
beloved and familiar initial, uttered in a tone of almost superhuman 
anguish, the conjugal heart of Mrs. Mivers was afflicted beyond 
control. 

" Wait here a moment, my dear ! I'll just give it them — that's all!" 
And in another moment Mrs. Mivers was heard bustling, scolding, till 
all trace of her whereabout was gone from the eyes of Helen. Thus 
left alone, in exceeding shame and dismay, the poor girl cast a glance 
around. The glance was caught by two young men, whose station, in 
these days when dress is an equivocal designator of rank, could not 



JLUCUETU. 157 

be guessed by their exterior. They might be dandies from the west 
— they might be clerks from the east. 

" By Jove," exclaimed one, " that's a sweet pretty girl ! " and. by 
a sudden movement of the crowd, they both found themselves close 
to Helen. 

" Are you alone, my dear ? " said a voice rudely familiar. 

Helen "made no reply — the tone of the voice frightened her. A gap in 
the mob showed the space towards Cleveland Row, which, leading to 
no illuminations, was vacant and solitary. She instantly made towards 
this spot ; the two men followed her, — the bolder and elder one occa- 
sionally trying to catch hold of her arm. At last, as she passed the 
last house to the left, a house then owned by One who, at once far- 
sisrhted and impetuous, affable and haughty — characterised alike by 
solid virtues and brilliant faults — would, but for hollow friends, 
have triumphed over countless foes, and enjoyed at last that brief 
day of stormy power for which statesmen resign the health of man- 
hood and the hope of age — as she passed that memorable mansion, 
she suddenly perceived that the space before her had no thorough- 
fare, and, while she paused in dismay, her pursuers blockaded her 
escape. 

One of them now fairly seized her hand : " Nay, pretty one, why so 
cruel ? But one kiss — only one ! " He endeavoured to pass his arm 
round her waist while he spoke. Helen eluded him, and darted for- 
ward, to find her way stopped by her persecutor's companion, when, 
to her astonishment, a third person gently pushed aside the form that 
impeded her path, approached, and looking mute defiance at the 
unchivalric molesters, offered her his arm. Helen gave but one timid 
hurrying glance to her unexpected protector : something in his face, 
his an, his youth, appealed at once to her confidence. _ Mechanically, 
and scarce knowing what she did, she laid her trembling hand on the 
arm held out to her. 

The two Lotharios looked foolish. One pulled up his shirt-collar, 
the other turned, with a forced laugh, on his heel. Boy as Percival 
seemed, and little more than boy as he was, there was a dangerous 
fire in his eye, and an expression of spirit and ready courage in his 
whole countenance, which, if it did not awe his tall rivals, made them 
at least unwilling to have a scene, and provoke the interference of the 
policemen, one of whom was now seen walking slowly up to the spot. 
They therefore preserved a discomfited silence ; and Percival St. 
John, with his heart going ten knots a beat, sailed triumphantly off 
with his prize. 

Scarcely knowing whither he went, certainly forgetful of Mr. 
Olivers, in his anxiety to escape at least from the crowd, Percival 
walked on till he found himself with his fair charge under the trees of 
St. James's Park. 

Then Helen, recovering herself, paused, and said, alarmed, "But 
this is not my way— I must go back to the street ! " 

" How foolish I am — that is true ! " said Percival, looking con- 
fused. " I— I felt so happy to be with you, feel your hand on my 
arm, and think that we were all by ourselves, that — that— but you 
tuve dropped your flowers ! " 



158 LUCHETIV. 

And as a bouquet Helen wore, dislodged somehow or other, fell to 
the ground, both stooped to pick it up, and their hands met. At that 
touch, Percival felt a strange tremble, which perhaps communicated 
itself (for such things are contagious) to his fair companion. Percival 
had got the nosegay, and seemed willing to detain it, for he bent his 
face lingeringly over the flowers. At length, he turned his bright 
ingenuous eyes to Helen, and singling one rose from the rest, said 
beseechingly—" May I keep this ? See, it is not so fresh as the 
others." 

" I am sure, sir," said Helen, colouring, and looking down, "I owe 
you so much, that I should be glad if a poor flower could repay it." 

" A poor flower ! You don't know what a prize this is to me ! " 

Percival placed the rose reverently in his bosom, and the two 
moved back slowly, as if reluctant both, through the old palace-court 
into the street. 

" Is that lady related to you ? " asked Percival, looking another 
way, and dreading the reply ; " not your mother, surely ! " 

" Oh, no ! — I have no mother ! " 

" Porgive me!" said Percival, for the tone of Helen's voice told him 
that he had touched the spring of a household sorrow. " And," he 
added, with a jealousy that he could scarcely restrain from making 
iiself evident in his accent, " that gentleman who spoke to you under 
the Colonnade — I have seen him before, but where I cannot remem- 
ber. In fact, you have put everything but yourself out of my head. 
Is he related to you ? " 

" He is my cousin." 

"Cousin!" repeated Percival, pouting a little ; and again there was 
silence. 

" I don't know how it is," said Percival, at last, and very gravely, 
as if much perplexed by some abstruse thought, " but I feel as if I 
had known you all my fife. I never felt this for any one before." 

There was something so irresistibly innocent in the boy's serious, 
wondering tone, as he said these words, that a smile, in spite of her- 
self, broke out amongst the thousand dimples round Helen's charm- 
ing lips. Perhaps the little witch felt a touch of coquetry for the first 
time. 

Percival, who was looking sidelong into her face, saw the smile, 
and said, drawing up his head, and shaking back his jetty curls, " I 
dare say you are laughing at me as a mere boy ; but I am older than 1 
look. I am sure I am much older than you are. Let me see, you are 
seventeen, I suppose ? " 

Helen, getting more and more at her ease, nodded playful assent. 

" And I am not far from twenty-one. Ah ! you may well look sur- 
prised — but so it is. An hour ago I felt a mere boy ; now I shall 
never feel a boy again ! " 

Once more there was along pause, and before it was broken they 
had gained the very spot in which Helen had lost her friend. 

" Why, bless us, and save us ! " exclaimed a voice, ' loud as a 
trumpet,' but not 'with a silver sound,' "there you are, after all;" 
and Mrs. Mivers (husband and umbrella both regained) planted her- 
elf full before them. 



LUCKfcTIA. 159 

" Oh, a pretty fright I have been in ; and now to sec you coming 
along as cool as if nothing had happened— as if the hurabrella had not 
lost its hivory andle — it s quite purvoking. Dear, dear ! what we- 
have gone through ! And who is this young gentleman, pray ? " 

Helen whispered some hesitating explanation, which Mrs. Mivers 
did not seem to receive as graciously as Percival, poor fellow, had a 
right to expect. She stared him full in the face, and shook her head 
suspiciously when she saw him a little confused by the survey. Then, 
tucking Helen tightly under her arm, she walked back towards the 
Haymarket, merely saying to Percival — 

Much obligated, and good night. I have a long journey to take 
to set down this here young lady, and the best thing we can all do is 
to get home as fast as we cau, and have a refreshing cup of tea — that's 
my mind, sir. Excuse me ! " 

Thus abruptly dismissed, poor Percival gazed wistfully on his 
Helen, as she was borne along, and was somewhat comforted at 
seeing her look back, with (as Tie thought) a touch of regret in her 
parting smile. Then suddenly it flashed across him how sadly he had 
wasted his time. Novice that he was ? he had not even learned the 
name and address of his new acquaintance. At that thought he 
hurried on through the crowd, but only reached the object of his 
pursuit just in time to see her placed in a coach, and to catch a full 
view of the luxuriant proportions of Mrs. Mivers as she followed her 
into the vehicle. 

As the lumbering conveyance (the only coach on the stand) heaved 
itself into motion, Percival's eye fell on the sweeper, who was still 
leaning on his broom, and who, in grateful recognition 01 the unwonted 
generosity that had repaid his service, touched hisr ragged hat, and 
smiled drowsily on his young customer. Love sharpens the wit, and 
animates the timid ; — a thought, worthy of the most experienced, 
inspired Percival St. John : he hurried to the sweeper, laid his hand 
an nis patchwork coat, and said, breathlessly — 

" You see that coach turning into the square ; follow it — find out 
where it sets down. There's a sovereign for you — another if you 

succeed. Call and tell me your success. Number Curzon- 

street!— off, like a shot!" 

The sweeper nodded and grinned; it was possibly not his first 
commission of a similar kind. He darted down the street; and 
Percival, following him with equal speed, had the satisfaction to see 
him, as the coach traversed St. James's Square, comfortably seated on 
the footboard. 

Beck, dull clod, knew nothing, cared nothing, felt nothing as to the 
motives or purpose of his employer. Honest love or selfish vice, it 
was the same to him. He saw only the one sovereign which, with 
astounded eyes, he still gazed at on his palm, and the vision of the 
sovereign that was yet to come : — 

" Scandit aeratas vitiosa naves 
Cura : nee turmas equitum relinquit." 

It was the Selfishness of London— calm and stolid, whether ontas 
track of innocence or at the command of guile. 



too 



LUCKETIA. 



At half-past ten o'clock, Percival St. John was seated in his room, 
and the sweeper stood at the threshold. Wealth and penury seemed 
brought into visible contact in the persons of the visitor and the host. 
The dwelling is held by some to give an index to the character of the 
owner : if so, Percival's apartments differed much from those generally 
favoured by young men of rank and fortune. On the one hand it had 
none of that affectation of superior taste, evinced in marqueterie and 
gilding, or the more picturesque discomfort of high-backed chairs and 
mediaeval curiosities which prevails in the daintier abodes of fastidious 
bachelors^ Nor, on the other hand, had it the sporting character 
which individualises the ruder juveniles " qui gaudent equis," betrayed 
by engravings of racers, and celebrated fox-hunts, relieved, perhaps, 
if the Nimrod condescend to a cross of the Lovelace, with portraits 
of figurantes, and ideals of French sentiment, entitled, " Le Soir" or 
"La Reveillee," " L'Mspoir," or " L' Abandon." But the rooms had a 
physiognomy of their-own, from their exquisite neatness and cheerful 
simplicity. The chintz draperies were lively with gay flowers ; books 
filled up the niches ; here and there were small pictures, chiefly sea- 
pieces — well chosen, well placed. 

There might, indeed, have been something almost effeminate in a 
certain inexpressibk purity of taste, and a cleanliness of detail that 
seemed actually brilliant, had not the folding-doors allowed a glimpse 
of a plainer apartment, with fencing-foils and boxing-gloves ranged on 
the wall, and a cricket-bat resting carelessly in the corner. These 
gave a redeeming air of manliness to the rooms, but it was the manli- 
ness of a boy; half-girl, if you please, in the purity of thought that 
pervaded one room, all boy hi the playful pursuits that were made 
manifest in the other. Simple, however, as this abode really was, 
poor Beck had never been admitted to the sight of anything half _ so 
fine. He stood at the door for a moment, and stared about him, 
bewildered and dazzled. But his natural torpor to things that con- 
cerned him not, soon brought to him the same stoicism that philosophy 
gives the strong ; and after the first surprise, his eye quietly settled on 
his employer. St. John rose eagerly from the sofa, on which he had 
been contemplating the starlit tree-tops of Chesterfield Gardens — 

"Well, well?" said Percival. 

" £Told Brompton," said Beck, with a brevity of word and clearness 
of perception worthy a Spartan. 

" Old Brompton?" repeated Percival, thinking the reply the most 
natural in the world. 

" In a big ous by hisself," continued Beck, " with a igh vail in 
front." 

" You would know it again?" 

" In course ; he's so wery pecular." 

"He? who?" 

" "Vy, the ous. The young lady got out, and the hold folks driv 
back. I did not go arter them /" and Beck looked sly. 

" So ; — I must find out the name." 

" I axed at the public," said Beck, proud of his diplomacy. " They 
keeps a sarvant vot takes half a pint at her meals. The yoirag lady's 
ma be a foriner." 



LTJCKETIA. Ifll 

" A foreigner ! Then she lives there with her mother P" 

" So they 'spose at the public." 

"And the name?" 

Beck shook his head. " 'Tis a French un, your onor; but the 
«arvant's is Martha." 

" You must meet me at Bronipton, near the turnpike, to-morrow, 
and show me the house." 

" Vv. I's in bizness all day, please your onor." 

"Inbizncss?" . 

"I's the place of the crossing," said Beck, with much dignity; 
" but artcr eight I goes vhere I likes." 

" To-morrow evening, then, at half-past eight, by the turnpike." 

Beck pulled his forelock assentingly. 

" There's the sovereign I promised you, my poor fellow — much good 
may it do vou. Perhaps you have some father or mother whose heart 
it will glad." 

" I never had no such thing," replied Beck, turning the coin in his 
hand. 

" Well, don't spend it in drink." 

" I never drinks nothing but svipes." 

" Then," said Percival, laughingly, "what, my good friend, will you 
ever do with your money ?" . . .• 

Beck put his finger to his nose, sunk his voice into a whisper, and 
replied, solemnly — " I as a mattris." 

" A mistress," said Percival ; " oh, a sweetheart ! Well ; but if 
she's a good girl, and loves you, she'll not let you spend your money 
on her." 

" I haint such a ninny as that," said Beck, with majestic contempt. 
"I 'spises the flat that is done brown by the blowens. I as a 
aattns." 

" A mattress ! a mattress ! Well, what has that to do with the 
money?" 

" Vy, I lines it." 

Percival look puzzled. " Oh," said he, after a thoughtful pause, 
and in a tone of considerable compassion, " I understand ; you sew 
your money in your mattress. My poor, poor lad, you can do better 
than that ! — there are the savings banks." 

Beck looked frightened : " I opes your onor vont tell no yun. I 
opes no run vont go for to put my tin vere I shall know nothing vat- 
somever about it. Now, I Knows vere it is — and I lays on it." 

" Do you sleep more soundly when you lie on your treasure ?" 

" No ; it's hodd," said Beck, musingly, " but the more I lines it, the 
vorse I sleeps." 

Percival laughed ; but there was melancholy in his laughter ; some- 
thing in the forlorn, benighted, fatherless, squalid miser, went to the 
core of his open, generous heart. 

" Do you ever read your Bible P" said he, after a pause ; " or even 
the newspaper ? " 

" I does not read nothing, cos vy, I haint been made a schoilard, 
like swell Tim, as was lagged for a forger/." 

" You go to church on a Sunday ?" 



162 LUCEETIA. 

" Yes ; I 'as a weekly hingagement at the New itoad." 

" What do you mean ? 

"To see arter the gig of a gemman vot comes from Igate." 

Percival lifted his brilliant eyes, and they were moistened with a 
heavenly dew, on the dull face of his fellow-creature. Beck made a 
scrape, looked round, shambled back to the door, and ran home, through 
the lamp-lit streets of the great mart of the Christian universe, to sew 
the gold in his mattress. 



CHAPTER III. 

EARLY TRAINING TOE AN UPKIGHT GENTLEKAN. 

Percival St. John had been brought up at home under the eye of 
his mother and the care of an excellent man, who had been tutor to 
himself and his brothers. The tutor was not much of a classical 
scholar, for, in great measure, he had educated himself ; and he who 
does so, usually lacks the polish and brilliancy of one whose footsteps 
have been led early to the Temple of the Muses. In fact, Captain 
Greville was a gallant soldier, with whom Vernon St. John had Deen 
acquainted in his own brief military career, and whom circumstances 
had so reduced in life as to compel him to sell his commission, and 
live as he could. He had always been known in his regiment as a 
reading man, and his authority looked up to in all the disputes as to 
history and dates, and literary anecdotes, which might occur at the 
mess-table. Yemon considered him the most learned man of his 
acquaintance; and, when accidentally meeting him in London, he 
learned his fallen fortunes, he congratulated himself on a very bril- 
liant idea, when he suggested that Captain Greville should assist him 
in the education of his boys and the management of his estate. At 
first, all that Greville modestly undertook, with respect to the former, 
and, indeed, was expected to do, was to prepare the young gentlemen 
for Eton, to which Vernon, with the natural predilection of an Eton 
man, destined his sons. But the sickly constitutions of the two elder 
justified Lady Mary in her opposition to a public school ; and Percival 
conceived early so strong an affection for a sailor's life, that the 
father's intentions were frustrated. The two elder continued their edu- 
cation at home ; and Percival, at an earlier age than usual, went to sea. 
The last was fortunate enough to have for his captain one of that new 
race of naval officers who, well educated and accomplished, form a 
notable contrast to the old heroes of Smollet. Percival, however, had 
not been long in the service before the deaths of his two elder 
brothers, preceded by that of his father, made him the head of his 
ancient house, and the sole prop of his mother's earthly hopes. He 
conquered with a generous effort the passion for his noble profession, 
Jvhich service had but confirmed, and returned home with his fresh 
childlike nature uncorrupted, his constitution strengthened, his lively 
and itnpressiosable mind braced by the experience of danger and tne 



LTJ01USTIA. 163 

habits of duty, and quietly resumed his reading under Captain Greville, 
who had moved from the hall to a small house in the village. 

Now. the education he had received, from first to last, was less 
adapted prematurely to quicken his intellect and excite his imagina- 
tion than to warm his heart and elevate, while it chastened his moral 
qualities; for in Lady Mary there was, amidst singular sweetness of 
temper, a high cast of character and thought. She was not what is 
commonly called clever, and her experience of the world was limited, 
compared to that of most women of similar rank who pass their lives 
in the vast theatre of London. But she became superior by a certain, 
single-heartedness which made truth so habitual to lier, that the light 
in which she lived rendered all objects around her clear. One who is- 
always true in the great duties of life, is nearly always wise. And 
Vernon, when he had fairly buried his faults, had felt a noble shame 
for the excesses into which they had led him. Gradually more and 
more wedded to his home, he dropped his old companions. He set 
grave guard on his talk (his habits now required no guard), lest any 
of the ancient levity should taint the ears of his children. Nothing 
is more common in parents than their desire that their children should 
escape their faults. We scarcely know ourselves till we have 
children, and then, if we love them duly, we look narrowly into 
failings that become vices, when tney serve as examDles to the 
young. 

The inborn gentleman with the native courage, and spirit, and 
horror of trick and falsehood which belong to that chivalrous abstrac- 
tion, survived almost alone in Vernon St. John; and his boys sprang 
up in the atmosphere of generous sentiments and transparent truth. 
Tne tutor was in harmony with the parents — a soldier every inch of 
him — not a mere disciplinarian, yet with a profound sense of duty and 
a knowledge that duty is to be found in attention to details. In 
inculcating the habit of subordination so graceful to the young, he- 
knew how to make himself beloved, and what is harder still, to be 
understood. The soul of this poor soldier was white and unstained, 
as the arms of a maiden knight ; it was full of suppressed, but lofty 
•mthusiasm. He had been ill-used, whether by Fate or the Horse 
Guards — his career had been a failure, but he was as loyal as if his 
hand held the field-marshal's truncheon and the garter bound his 
knee. He was above all querulous discontent. Prom him, no less 
than from his parents, Percival caught not only a spirit of honour 
worthy the antiqua fides of the poets, but that peculiar cleanliness of 
thought if the expression may be used, which belongs to the ideal of 
youthful chivalry. In mere book-learning, Percival, as may be sup- 
posed, was not very extensively read : but his mind, if not largely 
stored, had a certain unity of culture which gave it stability and indi- 
vidualised its operations. Travels, voyages, narratives of heroic 
adventure, biographies of great men, had made the favourite pasturo 
of hb enthusiasm. To this was added the more stirring, and, perhaps, 
the more genuine order of poets who make you feel and glow, rather 
than doubt and ponder. He knew, at least, enough of Greek to enjoy 
old Homer ; ana if he could have come but ill through a college 
examination into JSschylus and Sophocles, he had dwelt with fresh 



Jf)<fc 1.0CRETIA. 

delight on the rushing storm of spears, in the Seven before Thebes, 
and wept over the heroic calamities of Antigone. In science, he was 
no adept; but his clear, good sense, and quick appreciation of 
positive truths, had led him easily through the elementary mathema- 
tics, and his somewhat martial spirit had made him delight in the old 
captain's lectures on military tactics. Had he remained in the navy, 
Percival St. John would, doubtless, have been distinguished. His 
talents fitted him for straightforward manly action ; and he had a 
generous desire of distinction, vague, perhaps, the moment he was 
taken from his profession, and curbed by his diffidence in himself and 
his sense of deficiencies _ in the ordinary routine of purely classical 
education. Still he had in him all the elements of a true man — a man 
to go through life with a firm step and a clear conscience, and a gal- 
lant hope. Such a man may not win fame, that is an accident; 
hut he must occupy no despicable place in the movement of the 
world. 

It was at first intended to send Percival to Oxford, but for some 
reason or other, that design was abandoned. Perhaps Lady Mary, 
over-cautious, as mothers left alone sometimes are, — feared the con- 
tagion to which a young man of brilliant expectations, and no stu- 
dious turn, is necessarily exposed in all places of miscellaneous 
resort. — So Percival was sent abroad for two years, under the 
guardianship of Captain Greville. On his return, at the age of nine- 
teen — the great world lay before him, and he longed ardently to enter. 
For a year Lady Mary's fears and fond anxieties detained him at 
Laughton ; but, though his great tenderness for his mother withheld 
Percival from opposing her wishes by his own, this interval of inaction 
affected visibly his health and spirits. Ca,ptain Greville, a man of the 
world, saw the cause sooner than Lady Mary, and one morning, 
earlier than usual, he walked up to the Hall. 

The captain, with all his deference to the sex, was a plain man 
enough, when business was to be done. Like his great commander, 
he came to the point in a few words. 

" My dear Lady Mary, our boy must go to London — we are killing 
him here." 

" Mr. Greville ! " cried Lady Mary, turning pale and putting aside 
her embroidery — " killing him ? " 

" Killing the man in him. I don't mean to alarm you — I dare say 
his lungs are sound enough, and that his heart would bear the sthen- 
oscope to the satisfaction of the College of Surgeons. But, my dear 
ma'am, Percival is to be a man — it is the man you are killing by 
keeping him tied to your apron-string." 

' Oh, Mr. Greville ! I am sure you don't wish to wound me, 
but " 

"•I beg ten thousand pardons. I am rough, but truth is rough 
sometimes." 

" It is not for my sake," said the mother, warmly, and with tears 
in her eyes, " that I have wished him to be here. If he is dull, can 
we not fill the house for him P" 

"Jill a thimble, my dear Lady Mary — Percival should have B 
plunge in the ocean." 



IAJ0BE1IA. 165 

"Bat lie is so young yet, that horrid London !~ such temptations 
— fatherless, too!" 

'" 1 have no fear of the result if Percival goes now while his prin- 
ciples are strong, and his imagination not inflamed ; but if we keep 
him here much longer against his bent, he will learn to brood and to 
muse, write bad poetry perhaps, and think the world withheld from 
him a thousand times more delightful than it is. This very dread of 
temptation will provoke his curiosity, irritate his fancy, make him 
imagine the temptation must be a very delightful thing. For the 
fust time in my life, ma'am, I have caught him sighing over fashion- 
able novels, and subscribing to the Southampton Circulating Library. 
Take my word for it, it is time that Percival should begin life, and 
swim without corks." 

Lady Mary had a profound confidence in Greville's judgment and 
affection for Percival, and, like a sensible woman, she was aware of her 
own weakness. She remained silent for a few moments, and then 
said, with an effort — 

" You know how hateful London is to me now — how unfit I am to 
return to the hollow forms of its society ; still, if you think it right, 
I will take a house for the season, and Percival can still be under our 

" Xo, ma'am, pardon me, that will be the surest way to make him 
either discontented or hypocritical. A young man of his prospects 
and temper can hardly be expected to chime in with all our sober, 
old-fashioned habits. Yon will impose on him — if he is to conform to 
our hours, and notions, and quiet set — a thousand irksome restraints ; 
and what will be the consequence ? In a year, he will be of age, and 
can throw us off altogether, if he pleases. I know the boy : — don't 
seem to distrust him — he may be trusted. You place the true con- 
straint on temptation, when yon say to him, ' We confide to you. 
our dearest treasure — your honour, your morals, your conscience, 
yourself!' " 

" But, at least, yon will go with him, if it must be so," said Lady 
Mary, after a few timid arguments, from which, one by one, she was 
driven. 

" I !— what for ? — to be a jest of the young puppies he must know 
— to make him ashamed of himself and me — himself as a milksop, 
and me as a dry nurse." 

" But this was not so abroad ! " 

" Abroad, ma'am, I gave him full swing, I promise you ; and when 
we went abroad, he was two years younger." 

" But he is a mere child, still." 

" Child, Lady Mary ! At his age, I had gone through two sieges. 
There are younger faces than his at a mess-room. Come, come ! 1 
know what you fear— he may commit some follies ; very likely. He 
may be taken in, and lose some money — he can afford it, and he will 
get experience in return. Vices he has none. I have seen him — ay, 
with the vicious. Send him out against the world, like a saint of 
old, with his Bible in his hand, and no spot on his robe. Let him 
i>ee fairly what is, not stay here to dream of what is not. And when 
ne's of age, ma'am, we must get him an object— a pursuit ; — start 



166 LUC112TIA. 

him for the county, and make him serve the state; he will under- 
stand that business pretty well. Tush! tush; what is there to 
cry at!" 

The Captain prevailed. "We don't say that his advice would have 
been equally judicious for all youths of Percival's age ; but he knew 
well the nature to which he confided; he knew well how strong 
was that young heart in its healthful simplicity and instinctive 
rectitude ; and he appreciated his manliness not too highly when he 
felt that all evident props and aids would be but irritating tokens of 
distrust. 

And thus, armed only with letters of introduction, his mother' 
tearful admonitions, and Greville's experienced warnings, Percival 
St. John was launched into London life. After the first month or 
so, Greville came up to visit him, do him sundry kind invisible offices 
amongst ^ his old friends, help him to equip his apartments, and 
mount his stud : and, wholly satisfied with the results of his experi- 
ment, returned in high spirits with flattering reports to the anxious 
mother._ 

But, indeed, the tone of Percival's letters would have been suffi- 
cient to allay even maternal anxiety. He did not write, as sons are 
too apt to do, short excuses for not writing more at length, unsatis- 
factory compressions of details (exciting worlds of conjecture), into a 
hurried sentence. Prank and overflowing, those delightful epistles 
gave accounts fresh from the first impressions of all he saw and did. 
There was a racy, wholesome gusto in his enjoyment of novelty and 
independence. His balls and his dinners, and his cricket at Lord's — 
his partners, and his companions ; his general gaiety, his occasional 
ennui, furnished ample materials to one who felt he was correspond- 
ing with another heart, and had nothing to fear or to conceal. 

Put about two months before this portion of our narrative opens with 
the coronation, Lady Mary's favourite sister, who had never married, 
and who, by the death of her parents, was left alone in the worse 
than widowhood of an old maid, had been ordered to Pisa, for a 
complaint that betrayed pulmonary symptoms ; and Lady Mary, with 
her usual unselfishness, conquered both her aversion to movement 
and her wish to be in reach of her son, to accompany abroad this 
beloved and solitary relative. Captain Greville was pressed into 
service as their joint cavalier. And thus Percival's habitual inter- 
course with his two principal correspondents received a temporary 
cheek. 



MJCJLETU. 167 



CHAPTER IV, 

JOHN ABDWOBTH. 

At noon the next day. Beck, restored to his grandeur, was at the 
helm of his state ; Percival was vainly trying to be amused by the 
talk of two or three loungers who did him the honour to smoke a 
cigar in his rooms ; and John Ardworth sat in his dingy cell in Gray's 
Lin, with a pile of law books on the table, and the daily newspapers 
carpeting a footstool of Hansard's Debates upon the floor — no 
unusual combination of studies amongst the poorer and more ardent 
students of the law, who often owe their earliest, nor perhaps their 
least noble earnings, to employment in the empire of the Press. By 
the power of a mind habituated to labour, and backed by a frame o* 
remarkable strength and endurance, Ardworth grappled with his 
arid studies not the less manfully for a night mainly spent in a 
printer's office, and stinted to less than four hours' actual sleep. 
But that sleep was profound and refreshing as a peasant's. The 
nights thus devoted to the Press (he was employed in the sub-editing 
of a daily journal), the mornings to the law, he kept distinct the two 
separate callings with a stern subdivision of labour, which in itself 
proved the vigour of his energy and the resolution of his will. Early 
compelled to shift for himself, and carve out his own way, he had 
obtained a small fellowship at the small college in which he had 
passed his academic career. Previous to his arrival in London, by 
contributions to political periodicals, and a high reputation at that 
noble debating society in Cambridge which has trained some of the 
most eminent of living public men,* he had established a name 
which was immediately useful to him in obtaining employment on 
the Press. Like most young men of practical ability, he was an 
eager politician. The popular passion of the day kindled his enthu- 
siasm, and stirred the depths of his soul with magnificent, though 
exaggerated hopes in the destiny of his race. He identified himself 
wjtn the people ; his stout heart beat loud in their stormy cause. 
His compositions, if they wanted that knowledge of men, that subtle 
comprehension of the true state of parties, that happy temperance 
m which the crowning wisdom of statesmen must consist — qualities 
which experience alone can give — excited considerable attention by 
s'Tt u ?% uence a™* hardy lo ?ic- They were suited to the time. 
But John Ardworth had that solidity of understanding which betokens 

* .A"!??** 1 those whom the " Union" almost contemporaneously prepared for 
public life, and whose distinction has kept the promise of their youth, we may 
mention the eminent barristers, Messrs. Austin and Cockburn; and amongst 
•tatesmen, Lord Grey, Mr. C. Buller, Mr. Charles Villiers, and Mr. Macaulay. 
r« or ought we to forget those brilliant competitors for the prizes "of the University, 
Dr. Kennedy (now head muter of Shrewsbury School), and the late Winthrof) 
H. Praed. 



163 LXTCRETIA. 

more than talent, and which is the usual substratum of genius. He 
would not depend alone on the precarious and often unhonourea 
toils of polemical literature for that distinction on which he had 
fixed his steadfast heart. Patiently he plodded on through the 
formal drudgeries of his new profession, lighting up dulness by his 
own acute comprehension, weaving complexities into simple system 
by the grasp of an intellect mured to generalise ; and learning to 
love even what was most distasteful, by the sense of difficulty over- 
come, and the clearer vision which every step through the mists, and 
up the hill, gave of the land beyond. Of what the superficial are apt 
to consider genius, John Ardworth had but little. He had some- 
imagination (for a true thinker is never without that), but he had a 
very slight share of fancy. He did not flirt with the Muses ; on the 
granite of his mind, few flowers could spring. His style, rushing 
and earnest, admitted at times of a humour not without delicacy — 
though less delicate than forcible and deep— but it was little adorned 
with wit, and still less with poetry. Yet Ardworth had genius, and 
genius ample and magnificent. There was genius in that industrious- 
energy so patient in the conquest of detail, so triumphant in the 
perception of results. There was genius in that kindly sympathy 
with mankind — genius in that stubborn determination to succeed — 
genius in that vivid comprehension of affairs, and the large interests 
of the world — genius fed in the labours of the closet, and evinced the 
instant he was brought in contact with men ; evinced in readiness of 
thought, grasp of memory, even in a rough imperious manner, which 
showed him born to speak strong truths, and in their name to struggle 
and command. 

Rough was this man of ten in his exterior, though really gentle and kind- 
hearted. John Ardworth had sacrificed to no Graces ; he would have 
thrown Lord Chesterfield into a fever. Not that he was ever vulgar, 
for vulgarity implies affectation of refinement, but he talked loud, 
and laughed loud if the whim seized him, and rubbed his great hands 
with a boyish heartiness of glee, if he discomfited an adversary in 
argument. Or, sometimes he would sit abstracted and moody, and 
answer briefly and boorishly those who interrupted him. Young 
men were mostly afraid of him, though he wanted but fame to have 
a set of admiring disciples. Old men censured his presumption, and 
recoiled from the novelty of his ideas. Women alone liked and 
appreciated him, as, with their finer insight into character, they 
generally do, what is honest and sterling. Some strange failings, 
too, had John Ardworth— some of the usual vagaries and contradic- 
tions of clever men. As a system, he was rigidly abstemious. For 
days together he would drink nothing but water, eat nothing but 
bread, or hard biscuit, or a couple of eggs : then having wound up 
some allotted portion of work, Ardworth would indulge what he 
called a self-saturnalia — would stride off with old college friends to 
an inn in one of the suburbs, and spend, as he said triumphantly, 
" a day of blessed debauch !" Innocent enough, for the most part, 
the debauch was; — consisting in cracking jests, stringing puns, a fish 
dinner, perhaps, and an extra bottle or two of fiery port. Sometimes 
this jollity, which was always loud and uproarious, found its scejie 



LUCRETIA. 163 

in one of the cider cellars or midnight taverns, but Ardworth's 
labours on the Press made that latter dissipation extremely rare. These 
relaxations were always succeeded by a mien more than usually 
grave, a manner more than unusually curt and ungracious, an applica- 
tion more than ever rigorous and intense. John Ardworth was not a 
food-tempered man, but he was the best-natured man that ever 
reathed. He was like all ambitious persons, very much occupied 
with self, and yet it would have been a ludicrous misapplication of 
words to call him selfish. Even the desire of fame which absorbed 
bim was but a part of benevolence — a desire to promote justice and 
to serve his kind. 

John Ardworth's shaggy brows were bent over his open volumes, 
when his clerk entered noiselessly, and placed on his table a letter 
which the twopenny postman had just delivered. With an impatient 
shrug of the shoulders, Ardworth glanced towards the superscription, 
but Sis eye became earnest and his interest aroused, as he recognised 
the hand. "Again!" he muttered, " what mystery is this? Who 
can feel such interest in my fate?" He broke the seal and read as 
follows : — 

" Do you neglect my advice, or have you begun to act upon it ? 
Are you contented only with the slow process of mechanical applica- 
tion, or will you make a triumphant effort to abridge your apprentice- 
ship, and emerge at once into fame and power ? I repeat that you 
fritter away your talents and your opportunities upon this miserable 
task-work on a journal. I am impatient for you. Come forward 
yourself, put your force and your knowledge into some work of which 
the world may know the author. Day after (fay, I am examining into 
your destiny, and day after day I believe more and more that you are 
not fated for the tedious drudgery to which you doom your youth. I 
would have you great, but in the senate, not a wretched casuist at the 
bar. Appear in public as an individual authority, not one of that 
nameless troop of shadows, contemned while dreaded as, the Press, 
Write for renown. Go into the world, and make friends. Soften 
your rugged bearing. Lift yourself above that herd whom you call 
the people. What if you are born of the noble class ? What if your 
career is as Gentleman not Plebeian ? Want not for money. Use 
what I send you, as the young and the well-born should use it ; or let 
it, at least, gain you a respite from toils for bread — and support you 
in your struggle to emancipate yourself from obscurity into fame. 

"Your Unknown Friend." 

_ A bank note for £100 dropped from the envelope, as Ardworth 
silently replaced the letter on the table. 

Thrice before had he received communications in the same hand- 
wilting, and much to the same effect. Certainly, to a mind of less 
strength there would have been something very unsettling in those 
vague hints of a station higher than he owned— of a future at vari- 
ance with the toilsome lot he had drawn from the urn ; but after a 
single glance over his lone position in all its bearings, and probable 
expectations. Ardworth's steady sense shook off the slight disturbance 
euch misty vaticinations had effected. His mother's family was 



170 LVCHECIA. 

indeed unknown to him — be was even ignorant of her maiden name. 
But that very obscurity seemed unfavourable to much hope from such 
a quarter. The connections with the rich and well-born are seldom 
left obscure. From his father's family he had not one expectation. 
More had he been moved by exhortations now generally repeated, but 
m a previous letter more precisely detailed — viz. to appeal to the 
reading public in his acknowledged person, and by some striking and 
original work. This idea he had often contemplated and revolved ; 
but partly the necessity of keeping pace with the many exigencies of 
the hour, had deterred him, and partly also the conviction of his sober 
judgment, that a man does himself no good at the bar, even by the 
most brilliant distinction gained in discursive fields. He had the 
natural yearning of the Restless Genius; and the Patient Genius 
(higher power of the two) had suppressed the longing. Still, so far, 
the whispers of his correspondent tempted and aroused. But 
hitherto Le had sought to persuade himself that the communications 
thus strangely forced on him, arose, perhaps, from idle motives— a 
jest, it might be, of one of his old college friends, or at best the vain 
enthusiasm of some more credulous admirer. But the enclosure now 
sent to him, forbade either of those suppositions. Who that he knew 
could afford so costly a jest, or so extravagant a tribute ? He was 
perplexed, and with his perplexity was mixed a kind of fear. Plain, 
earnest, uirromantic in the common acceptation of the word, the mys- 
tery of this intermeddling with his fate, this arrogation of the license 
to spy, the right to counsel, and the privilege to bestow, gave him the 
uneasiness the bravest men may feel at noises in the dark. That day 
lie could apply no more — he could not settle back to his Law Reports. 
He took two or three unquiet turns up and down his smoke-dried cell, 
then locked up the letter and enclosure, seized his hat, and strode, 
■with his usual lusty swinging strides, into the open air. 

But still the letter haunted him. " And if," he said almost audi- 
bly, "if I were the heir to some higher station, why then I might have 
a heart like idle men; and Helen — beloved Helen!" — he paused, 
sighed, shook his rough head, shaggy with neglected curls, and added 
•—"As if even then I could steal myself into a girl's good graces! 
Man's esteem I may command, though poor ! — woman's love could I 
win, though rich ! Pooh ! pooh ! everjr wood does not make a Mercury; 
and faith, the wood I am made of, will scarcely cut up into a lover." 
Nevertheless, though thus soliloquising. Ardworth mechanically 
bent his way towards Brampton, and halted, half -ashamed of himself 
at the house where Helen lodged with her aunt. It was a building 
that stood apart from all the cottages and villas of that charmim, 
suburb, half-way down a narrow lane, and enclosed by high melan- 
choly walls, deep set in which a small door, with the paint blistered 
and weather-stained, gave unfrequented entrance to the demesne. A 
woman seiTant of middle age. and starched puritanical appearance, 
answered the loud ring of the bell, and Ardworth seemed a privileged 
visitor, for she asked him no question, as with a slight nod, and a 
smileless, stupid expression in a face otherwise comely, she led the way 
across a paved path, much weed-grown, to the house. That house 
itself had somewhat of a stern and sad exterior. It was not ancient, 



litOAETIA. i71 

yet it looked old from skabbiness and neglect. The vine, loosened 
from the rusty nails, trailed rankly against the wall, and fell in crawl- 
ing branches over the ground. The house had once been white- 
washed, but the colour, worn off in great patches, distained with 
damp, struggled here and there with the dingy chipped bricks 
beneath. There was no peculiar want of what is called tenantable 
repair ;" the windows were whole, and doubtless the roof sheltered 
from the rain. But the wood-work that encased the panes was 
decayed, and houseleek covered the tiles. Altogether there was that 
forlorn and cheerless aspect about the place, which chills the visitor, 
he defines not why. And Ardworth steadied his usual careless step, 
and crept, as if timidly, up the creaking stairs. 

On entering the drawing-room — it seemed at first deserted ; but the 
eve searching round, perceived something stir in the recess of a huge 
chair— set by the fireless hearth. And from amidst a mass of cover- 
ings a pale face emerged, and a thin hand waved its welcome to the 
visitor. 

Ardworth approached, pressed the hand, and drew a seat near to 
the sufferer's. 

" You are better, I hope ? " he said cordially, — and yet in a tone of 
more respect than was often perceptible in his deep, blunt voice. 

"I am always the same," was the quiet answer; "come nearer 
still. Your visits cheer me." 

And as these last words were said, Madame Dalibard raised herself 
from her recumbent posture, and gazed long upon Ardworth's face of 
power and front of thought. " You over fatigue yourself, my poor 
kinsman," she said, with a certain tenderness : " you look already 
too old for your young years." 

" That's no disadvantage at the bar." 

" Is the bar your means or your end ?" 

"My dear Madame Dalibard, it is my profession." 

"No, your profession is to rise. John Ardworth," and the low 
voice swelled in its volume. " You are bold, able, and aspiring — for 
this, I love you — love you almost — almost as a mother. Your fate," 
she continued, hurriedly, "interests me; your energies inspire me 
with admiration. Often I sit here for hours, musing over your destiny 
to be — so that at times, I may almost say that in your life I live." 

Ardworth looked embarrassed, and with an awkward attempt at 
compliment, he began, hesitatingly; "I should think too highly of 
myself, if I could really belieye that you-; — " 

"Tell me," interrupted Madame Dalibard: "we have had many 
conversations upon grave and subtle matters ; we have disputed on 
the secret mysteries of the human mind; we have compared our 
several experiences of outward life and the mechanism of the social 
world, — tell me, then, and frankly, what do you think of me ? Do 
you regard me merely as your sex is apt to regard the woman, who 
aspires to equal men — a thing of borrowed phrases and unsound ideas 
— feeble to guide and unskilled to teach ? or do you recognise in this 
miserable body a mind of force not unworthy yours, ruled by an 
experience larger than your own?" 

"I think of you," answered Ardworth, frankly, "as the moat 

K 2 



172 LUCKE'l'IA. 

remarkable woman I have ever met. Yet, do not be angry, 1 do nol 
like to yield to the influence which you gain over me when we meet. 
It disturbs my convictions — it disquiets my reason — I do not settle 
back to my life so easily after your breath has passed over it." 

"And yet," said Lucretia, with a solemn sadness in her voice, 
" that influence is but the natural power which cold maturity exercises 
on ardent youth. It is my mournful advantage over you, that dis- 
quiets your happy calm. It is my experience that unsettles the 
fallacies which you name ' convictions.' Let this pass. I asked your 
opinion of me, because I wished to place at your service all that 
knowledge of fife which I possess. In proportion as you esteem me, 
you will accept or reject my counsels." 

r " I have benefited by them already. It is the tone that you advised 
me to assume that gave me an importance I had not before, with that 
old formalist whose paper I serve, and whose prejudices I shock ; it 
is to your criticisms that I owe the more practical turn of my writings, 
and the greater hold they have taken on the public." 

"Trifles indeed, these," said Madame Dahbard, with a half smile. 
" Let them at least induce you to listen to me ; if I propose to make 
your path more pleasant, yet your ascent more rapid." 

Ardworth knit his brows, and his countenance assumed an expression 
of doubt and curiosity. However, he only replied, with a blunt 
laugh — 

"You must be wise, indeed, if you have discovered a royal road to 
distinction ! 

' Ah, who can tell how hard it is to climb 
The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar ! 

A more sensible exclamation than poets usually preface with their 
whining ' Ah's ' and ' Oh's !' " 

" What we are is nothing," pursued Madame Dalibard ; what we 
seem is much." 

Ardworth thrust his hands into his pockets, and shook his head. 
The wise woman continued, unheeding his dissent from her premises. 

" Everything you are taught to value has a likeness, and it is that 
likeness which the world values. Take a man out of the streets, poor 
and ragged, what will the world do with him ? Send him to the work- 
house, if not to the jail. Ask a great painter to take that man's por- 
trait, rags, squalor, and all ; and kings will bid for the picture. You 
would thrust the man from your doors, you would place the portrait 
in your palaces. It is the same with qualities, the portrait is worth 
more than the truth. What is virtue without character ? But a man 
without virtue may thrive on a character ! What is genius without 
success ? But how often you bow to success without genius ! John 
Ardworth, possess yourself of the portraits — win the character — seize 
the success." 

" Madam," exclaimed Ardworth, rudely, " this is horrible ! " 

" Horrible, it may be," said Madame Dahbard, gently, and feeling, 
perhaps, that she had gone too far : " but it is the world's judgment. 
Seem, then, as well as be. You have virtue, as I believe. Well, wrap 
yourself in it — in your closet. Go into the world, and earn 



LVC11ETIA. 173 

character. If you have genius, let it comfort you. Hush into the 
crowd, and get success." 

"Stop!" cried Ardworth; "I recognise you. How could I be so 
blind ? It is you who have written to me, and in the same strain : 
you have robbed yourself — you, poor sufferer, to throw extravagance 
into these strong hands. And why? What am I to you?" 

An expression of actual fondness softened Lucretia's face, as she 
looked up at him, and replied : " I will tell you hereafter what you 
are to me. First, I confess that it is I whose letters have perplexed, 
perhaps offended you. The sum that I sent, I do not miss. I 
have more — will ever have more at your command — never fear. 
Yes, I wisli you to go into the world, not as a dependent, but as an 
equal to the world's favourites. I wish yoa to know more of men 
than mere law-books teach you. I wish you to be in men's mouths, 
create a circle that shall talk of young Ardworth — that talk would 
travel to those who can advance your career. The very possession of 
money in certain stages of life gives assurance to the manner, gives 
attraction to the address." 

" But," said Ardworth, " all this is very well for some favourite of 
birth and fortune ; but for me — yet speak, and plainly ; you throw out 
hints that I am what I know not ; but something less dependent on 
his nerves and his brain than is plain John Ardworth. What is it 
you mean?" 

Madame Dalibard bent her face over her breast, and rocking her- 
self in her chair, seemed to muse for some moments before she 
answered. 

"When I first came to England, some months ago, I desired 
naturally to learn all the particulars of my family and kindred, from 
which my long residence abroad had estranged me. John Walter 
Ardworth was related to my half-sister, to me he was but a mere con- 
nection. However, I knew something of his history, yet I did not 
know that he had a son. Shortly before I came to England, I learned 
that one who passed for his son had been brought up by Mr. Fielden, 
and from Mr. Fielden I have since learned all the grounds for that 
belief, from which you take the name of Ardworth." i 

Lncretia paused a moment ; and after a glance at the impatient, 
wondering, and eager countenance that bent intent upon her, she 
resumed : — 

"Your reputed father was, you are doubtless aware, of reckless and 
extravagant habits. He had been put into the army by my uncle, 
and he entered the profession with the careless buoyancy of his san- 
guine nature. I remember those days — that day ! Well, to return 
— where was I ? — Walter Ardworth had the folly to entertain strong 
notions of politics. He dreamt of being a soldier, and yet persuaded 
himself to be a republican. His notions, so hateful in his profession, 
got wind ; he disguised nothing, he neglected the portraits of things 
— Appearances. He excited the rancour of his commanding officer — 
for politics then, more even than now, were implacable ministrants to 
hate — occasion presented itself ; during the short Peace of Amiens 
he had been recalled. He had to head a detachment of soldiers 
against some mob — in Ireland. I believe ; he did not fire on the 



174 LTJCRETIA. 

mob, according to orders — so, at least, it was said : John Walter 
Ardworth was tried by a court-martial, and broke ! But you know 
all this, perhaps ? " 

"My poor lather! Only in part: I knew that he had been dis- 
missed the army— I believed unjustly. He was a soldier, and yet he 
dared to think for himself, and be humane ! " 

" But my uncle had left him a legacy — it brought no blessing, — 
none of that old man's gold did. Where are they all now ?— Dalibard, 
Susan, and her fair-faced husband ? — where ? _ Vernon is in his grave 
— but one son of many left ! Gabriel Varney lives, it is true ! — and I ! 
But that gold — yea, in our hands, there was a curse on it ! Walter 
Ardworth had his legacy— his nature was gay; if disgraced in his pro- 
fession, he found men to pity and praise him — Fools of Party like 
himself. He lived joyously — drank or gamed, or lent or borrowed, — 
what matters the wherefore? — he was in debt,— he lived at last a 
wretched, shifting, fugitive life, — snatching bread where he could, 
— with the bailiffs at his heels, — then, for a short time, we met 
again." 

Lucretia's brow grew black as night, as her voice dropped at that 
.ast sentence, and it was with a start that she continued, — 

" In the midst of this hunted existence, Walter Ardworth appeared, 
late one night, at Mr. Fielden' s with an infant. He seemed— so says 
Mr. Fielden — ill, worn, and haggard. He entered into no explana- 
tions with respect to the child that accompanied him, and retired at 
once to rest. What follows, Mr. Fielden, at my request, has 
noted down. Bead, and see what claim you have to the honourable 
parentage so vaguely ascribed to you." 

■* As she spoke, Madame Dalibard opened a box on her table, drew 
forth a paper in Fielden's writing, and placed it in Ardworth's 
hand. After some preliminary statement of the writer's intimacy 
with the elder Ardworth, and the appearance of the latter at his 
house, as related by Madame Dalibard, &c, the document went on 
thus : — 

" The next day, when my poor guest was still in bed, my servant 
Hannah came to advise me that two persons were without waiting to 
see me. As is my wont, I bade them be shown in. On their entrance 
(two rough farmer-looking men they were, whom I thought might be 
coming to hire my little pasture field), I prayed them to speak low, 
as a sick gentleman was just over head. Whereupon, and without 
saying a word further, the two strangers made a rush from the room, 
leaving me dumb with amazement ; in a few moments I heard voices 
and a scuffle above. I recovered myself, and thinking robbers had 
entered my peaceful house, I called out lustily, when Hannah came 
in, and we both, taking courage, went upstairs, and found that poor 
Walter was in the hands of these supposed robbers, who in truth were 
but bailiffs. They would not trust him out of their sight for a mo- 
ment. However, he took it more pleasantly than I could have sup- 
posed possible ; prayed me in a whisper to take care of the child, ana 
I should soon hear from him again. In less than an hour he was 
gone. Two days afterwards, I received from him a hurried letter, 
without address, of which this is a copy : — 



lACREMA. i r "i 

" 'DearFiuend, — 1 slipped from the bailiffs, and here I am in. :\ 
safe little tavern in sight of the sea ! Mother Country is a very bail 
parent to me ! Mother Brownrigg herself could scarcely be worse. 
I shall wk out my passage to some foreign land, and if I can recover 
my health (sea-air is bracing), I don't despair of getting my bread 
honestly, somehow. If ever I can pay my debts, I may return. But, 
meanwhile, my good old tutor, what will you think of me ? You to 
whom my sole return for so much pains taken in vain, is another 
mouth to feed ! And no money to pay for the board ! Yet you'll not 

frudge the child a place at your table, will you ? No, nor kind, saving 
Irs. Fid den either— God bless her tender, economical soul ! You 
know quite enough of nit to be sure that I shall very soon either free 
you of the boy, or send you something, to prevent its being an incum- 
brance. I would say, love and pity the child for my sake. But I own 

I feel By Jove, I must be off — I hear the first signal from the 

vessel, that Yours in haste, ' J . W A.' '" 



i >> 



Young Ardworth stopped from the lecture, and sighed heavily. 
There seemed to him, in this letter, worse than a mock gaiety,— a 
certain levity and recklessness — which iarred on his own high prin- 
ciples. And the want of affection for the child thus abandoned was 
evident — not one fond word. He resumed the statement with a 
gloomy and disheartened attention. 

" This was all I heard from poor erring Walter for more than three 
years ; but I knew, in spite of his follies, that his heart was sound at 
bottom " (the son's eyes brightened here, and he kissed the paper), 
" and the child was no burthen to us ; we loved it, not only for Ard- 
worth's sake, but for its own, and for charity's, and Christ's. Ard- 
worth's second letter was as follows : — 

" ' En iterum Crispinus ! — I am still alive, and getting on in the 
world— ay, and honestly, too^ I am no longer spending heedlessly ; I 
am saving for my debts, and I shall live, I trust, to pay off every far- 
thing. First, for my debt to you, I send an order, not signed in my 
name, but equally valid, on Messrs. Drummond, for £250. Repay 
yourself what the boy has cost. Let him be educated to get his own 
living, — if clever, as a scholar or a lawyer, — if dull, as a tradesman. 
Whatever I may gain, he will have his own way to make. I ought to 
tell you the story connected with his birth, but it is one of pain and 
shame : and, on reflection, I feel that I have no right to injure him by 
affixing to his early birth an opprobrium of which he himself is guilt- 
less. If ever I return to England, you shall know all, and by your 
counsels I will abide. Love to all your happy family. — Your grateful 
Friend and Pupil.' 

" From this letter I began to suspect that the poor boy was pro- 
bably not born in wedlock, and that Ardworth's silence arose from 
his compunction. I conceived it best never to mention this suspicion 
to John himself as lie grew up. Why should I afflict him by a doubt 
from which his father shrank, and which might only exist in my own 
inexperienced and uncharitable interpretation of some vague words ? 



176 LUCKETIA. 

"When John was fourteen, 1 received from Messrs. Drunimond a 
further sum of £500, but without any line from Ardworth, and only to 
the effect that Messrs. Drunvmond were directed by a correspondent 
in Calcutta to pay me the said sum on behalf of expenses incurred 
for the maintenance of the child left to my charge by John Walter 
Ardworth. My young pupil had been two years at the university, 
when I received the letter of which tins is a copy : — 

"'How are you? — still well — still happy?— let me hope so! 1 
have not written to you, dear old friend, but I have not been forgetful 
of you — I have inquired of you through my correspondents, and have 
learned, from time to time, such accounts as satisfied my grateful 
affection for you. I find that you have given the boy my name? 
Well, let him bear it — it is nothing to boast of, such as it became in 
my person ; but, mind; I do not, therefore, acknowledge him as my 
son. I wish him to think himself without parents, without other aid 
in the career of life than his own industry and talent, — if talent he 
has. Let him go through the healthful probation of toil — let him 
search for and find independence. Till he is of age, £150 per annum 
will be paid quarterly to your account for him at Messrs. Drum- 
monds' If then, to set him up in any business or profession, a sum 
of money be necessary, name the amount by a line, signed A.B., 
Calcutta, to the care of Messrs. Drummond, and it will reach, and find 
me disposed to follow your instructions. But after that time all 
further supply from me will cease. Do not suppose, because I send 
this from India, that I am laden with rupees ; all I can hope to attain 
is a competence. That boy is not the only one who has claims to 
share it. Even, therefore, if I had the wish to rear him to the extra- 
vagant habits that ruined myself, I have not the power. Yes ! — let 
him lean on his own strength. In the letter you send me, write fully 
of your family, your sons, and write as to a man who can perhaps help 
them in the world, and will be too happy thus in some slight degree 
to repay all he owes you. You would smile approvingly if you saw 
me now — a steady, money-getting man, but still yours as ever. 

" 'P.S.- -Do not let the boy write to me, nor give him this clue to 
my address.' 

" On the r jceipt of this letter, I wrote fully to Ardworth about the 
excellent promise and conduct of his poor neglected son. I told him 
truly he was a son any father might be proud of, and rebuked, even 
to harshness, Walter's unseemly tone respecting him. One's child is 
one's child, however the father may have wronged the mother. To 
this letter I never received any answer. When John was of age, and 
had made himself independent of want, by obtaining a college fellow- 
ship, I spoke to him about his prospects. I told him that his father, 
though residing abroad and for some reason keeping himself con- 
cealed, had munificently paid hitherto for his maintenance, and would 
lay down what might be necessary to start him in business, or 
perhaps place him in the array ; but that his father might be better 
pleased if he could show a love of independence, and henceforth 
maintain himself. I knew the boy I spoke to — John thought as I 



LUCRETIA 17'i 

did, and I never applied for another donation to the elder Ardworth. 
The allowance ceased : Jolin since then has maintained himself. 1 have 
heard no more from his father, though I have written often to thp 
address he gave me. I begin to fear that he is dead. I once went 
up to town and saw one of the heads of Messrs. Drummond's firm — e 
very polite gentleman, but he could give me no information, except, 
that ne obeyed instructions from a correspondent at Calcutta — one 
Mr. Maci'arren. A V hereon I wrote to Mr. Macfarren, and asked him, 
as I thought very pressingly, to tell me all he knew of poor Ardworth 
the elder. He answered shortly, that he knew of no such person at 
all, and that A.B. was a French merchant, settled in Calcutta, who 
had been dead for above two years. I now gave up all hopes of any 
further intelligence, and was more convinced than ever that I had 
acted rightly in withholding from poor John my correspondence with 
his father. The lad had been curious and inquisitive naturally, but 
when I told him that I thought it my duty to his father to be so 
reserved, he forebore to press me. I have only to add, first, that by 
all the inquiries I could make of the surviving members of Walter 
Ardworth's family, it seemed their full belief that he had never been 
married, and therefore I fear we must conclude that he had no legiti- 
mate children, which may account for, though it cannot excuse, his 
neglect ; and secondly, with respect to the sums received on dear 
John's account — I put them all by, capital and interest, deducting 
only the expense of Ins first year at Cambridge (the which I could 
not defray, without injuring my own children), and it all stands in h ? 
name at Messrs. Drummonds', vested in the Three per Cents. Tha.. 
I have not told him of this was by my poor dear wife's advice ; fon 
she said, very sensibly, and she was a shrewd woman on money 
matters, 'If he knows he has such a large sum all in the lump, who 
knows but he may grow idle and extravagant, and spend it at once, 
like his father before him ; whereas, some time or other, he will want 
to marry, or need money for some particular purpose, — then what » 
blessing it will be ! ' 

" However, my dear madam, as you know the world better than I 
do, you can now do as you please, both as to communicating to John 
all the information herein contained as to his parentage, and as to 
apprising him of the large sum of which he is lawfully possesed. 

" Matthew Fielden. 

" P. 3. — In justice to poor John Ardworth, and to show that whatever 
whim he may have conceived about his own child, he had still a heart 
kind enough to remember mine, though Heaven knows I said nothing 
about them in my letters, my eldest boy received an offer of an excel- 
lent place in a West India merchant's house, and has got on to be 
chief clerk, and my second son was presented to a living of one hun- 
dred and seventeen pounds a-year, by a gentleman he never heard of. 
Though I never traced these good acts to Ardworth, from whom else- 
could they come r " 

Ardworth put down the paper without a word; and Lucretia, who 
had watched him while he read. w»s struck with the self-control ho- 



178 LTJCRETIA. 

€vinced when he came to the end of the disclosure. She laid her hand 
on his, and said, 

" Courage !— you have lost nothing !" 

" Nothing !" said Ardworth, with a bitter smile. " A father's love 
and a father's name— nothing ! " 

"But," exclaimed Lucretia, "is this man your father? Does a 
father's heart beat in one line of those hard sentences. No, no ; it 
seems to me probable— it seems to me almost certain, that you are—" 
she stopped, and continued with a calmer accent, "near to my own 
blood. I am now in England — in London — to prosecute the inquiry 
built upon that hope. If so — if so— you shall — " Madame Dalibard 
again stopped abruptly, and there was something terrible in the very 
exultation of her countenance. She drew a long breath, and resumed, 
with an evident effort at self-command — "If so, I have a right to the 
interest I feel for you. Suffer me yet to be silent as to the grounds 
of my belief, and — and — love me a little in the meanwhile ! " 

Her voice trembled, as if with rushing tears, at these last words, 
and there was almost an agony in the tone in which they were said, 
and in the gesture of the clasped hands she held out to him. 

Much moved (amidst all his mingled emotions at the tale thus made 
known to him) Dy the manner and voice of the narrator, Ardworth 
bent down and kissed the extended hands. Then he rose abruptly, 
walked to and fro the room, muttering to himself— paused opposite 
the window — threw it open, as for air, and, indeed, fairly gasped for 
breath. When he turned round, however, his face was composed, and 
folding his arms on his large breast with a sudden action, he said 
aloud, and yet rather to himself than to his listener, — 

" What matter, after all, by what name men call our fathers ! We 
ourselves make our own fate ! Bastard or noble, not a jot care I. 
Give me ancestors, I will not disgrace them; raze from my lot 
even the very name of father, and my sons shall have an ancestor 
in me!" 

As he thus spoke, there was a rough grandeur in his hard 
face and the strong ease of his powerful form. And while thus 
standing and thus looking, the door opened, and Varney walked in 
abruptly. 

These two men had met occasionally at Madame Dalibard's, but no 
intimacy had been established between them. Varney was formal and 
distant to Ardworth, and Ardworth felt a repugnance to Varney. 
With the instinct of sound, sterling, weighty natures, he detected at 
once, and disliked heartily, that something of gaudy, false, exagge- 
rated, and hollow, which pervaded Gabriel Varney's talk and manner 
— even the trick of his walk, and the cut of his dress. And Ardworth 
wanted that boyish and beautiful luxuriance of character which 
belonged to Percival St. John, easy to please and to be pleased, and 
expanding into the warmth of admiration for all talent and all distinc- 
tion. For art, if not the highest, Ardworth cared not a straw ; it was 
nothing to him that Varney painted and composed, and ran showily 
through the jargon of literary babble, or toyed with the puzzles of 
unsatisfying metaphysics. He saw but a charlatan, and he had not 
yet learned from experience what strength and what danger lie hid in 



LUCRETIA. 179 

the boa parading its colours in the sun, and shifting, in the sensual 
sportiveness of its being, from bough to bough. 

Varney halted in the middle of the room, as his eye rested first 
on Ardworth, and then glanced towards Madame Dalibard. But 
Ardworth, jarred from his reverie or resolves by the sound of a voice 
discordant to his ear at all times, especially in the mood which then 
possessed him. scarcely returned Varney's salutation, buttoned his 
coat over his chest, seized his hat, and upsetting two chairs, and very 
considerably disturbing the gravity of a round table, forced his way to 
Madame Dalibard, pressed her hand, and said in a whisper, "I shall 
see you again soon," and vanished. 

V arney, smoothing his hair with fingers that shone with rings, slid 
into the seat next Madame Dalibard, which Ardworth had lately 
occupied, and said, " If I were a Clytemnestra, I should dread an 
Orestes in such a son ! " 

Madame Dalibard shot towards the speaker one of the sidelong 
suspicious glances which of old had characterised Lucretia, and 
said, — 

" Clytemnestra was happy ! The Furies slept to her crime, and 
haunted but the avenger." 

"Hist!" said Varney. 

The door opened, and Ardworth reappeared. 

" I quite forgot, what I half came to Know. — How is Helen ? Did 
she return home safe ?" 

"Safe— yes!" 

" Dear girl — I am glad to hear it ! Where is she ? Not gone to 
ihose Mivers' again ! I am no aristocrat, but why should one couple 
together refinement and vulgarity ?" 

" Mr. Ardworth," said Madame Dalibard, with haughty coldness, 
" my niece is under my care, and you will permit me to judge for 
myself how to discharge the trust. Mr. Mivers is her own relation — 
a nearer one than yon are." 

Not at all abashed by the rebuke, Ardworth said carelessly, "Well, 
I shall talk to you again on that subject. Meanwhile, pray give my 
love to her — Helen, I mean." 

Madame Dalibard half rose in her chair, then sunk back again, 
motioning with her hand to Ardworth to approach. Varney rose and 
walked to the window, as if sensible that something was about to be 
said not meant for his ear. 

When Ardworth was close to her chair, Madame Dalibard grasped 
his hand with a vigour that surprised him, and drawing him nearer 
still, whispered as he bent down — 

" I will give Helen your love, if it is a cousin's — or, if you will, a 
brother's love. Do you intend — do you feel — another, a warmer love ? 
Speak, sir !" and drawing suddenly back, she gazed on his face, with 
a stern and menacing expression, her teeth set, and the lips firmly 
pressed together. 

Ardworth, though a little startled, and half angry, answered witn 
the low ironical laugh, not uncommon to him, " Pish ! you ladies are 
apt to think us men much greater fools than we are. A briefless 
lawver is not very inflammable tinder. Yes, a cousin's love — quite 



180 LTJCHET1A. 

enough. Poor little Helen ! time enough to put other notions into 
her head ; and then— she will have a sweetheart, gay and handsome 
like herself!" 

"Ay," said Madame Dalibard, with a slight smile, "ay, I am 
satisfied. Come soon." 

Ardworth nodded, and hurried down the stairs. As he gained the 
door, he caught sight of Helen at a distance, bending over a flower-bed 
in the neglected garden. He paused, irresolute, a moment. " No," 
he muttered to himself; "no, I am fit company only for myself! A 
long walk into the fields, and then — away with these mists round the 
Past and Puture ; the Present at least is mine !" 



CHAPTER V. 

THE WEAVERS AND THE WOOF. 

" And what," said Varney — " what, while we are pursuing a fan* 
cied clue, and seeking to provide first a name, and then a fortune for 
this young lawyer — what steps have you _really_ taken to meet the 
danger that menaces me — to secure, if our inquiries fail, an independ- 
ence for yourself ? Months have elapsed, and you have still shrunk 
from advancing the great scheme upon which we built, when the 
daughter of Susan Mamwaring was admitted to your hearth." 

" Why recall me, in these rare moments when I feel myself human 
still — why recall me back to the nethermost abyss of revenge and 
crime ? Oh ! let me be sure that I have still a son ! Even if John 
Ardworth, with his gifts and energies, be denied to me ! — a son, 
though in rags, J will give him wealth !_— a son, though ignorant as 
the merest boor, I will pour into his brain my dark wisdom ! — a son — 
a son! — my heart swells at the word. Ah, you sneer! Yes, my heart 
swells, but not with the mawkish fondness of a feeble mother. In a 
son, I shall live again — transmigrate from this tortured and horrible 
life of mine — drink back my youth. In him I shall rise from my fall 
— strong in his power — great in his grandeur. It is because I was 
born a woman — had woman's poor passions and infirm weakness, that 
I am what I am — I would transfer myself into the soul of man — man 
who has the strength to act, and the privilege to rise. Into the bronze 
of man's nature I would pour the experience which has broken, with 
its fierce elements, the puny vessel of clay. Yes, Gabriel, in return 
for all I have done and sacrificed for you, I ask but co-operation in 
that one hope of my shattered and storm-beat being. Bear — forbear 
— await — risk not that hope by some wretched peddling crime, which 
will bring on us both deteotion — some wanton revelry in guilt, whicn 
is not worth the terror that treads upon its heels." 

" You forget," answered Vamey, with a kind of submissive sullen- 
ness, for whatever had passed between these two persons in thek 
secret and fearful intimacy, there was still a power m Lucretia, sm- 



LUCRE1IA. 181 

living her fall amidst the fiends, that impressed Varney with the only 
respect he felt for man or woman—" you forget strangely the nature 
of our elaborate and master project, when you speak of ' peddling 
crime,' or ' wanton revelry' in guilt ! You forget, too, how every 
hour that we waste, deepens the peril that surrounds me, and may 
sweep from your side the sole companion that can aid you in your 
objects — nay, without whom they must wholly fail. Let me speak 
first of that most urgent danger, for your memory seems short and 
troubled, since you have learned only to hope the recovery of your 
son. If this man, Stubmore, in whom the trust created by my uncle's 
will is now vested — once comes to town — once begins to bustle about 
his accursed projects of transferring the money from the Bank of 
England, 1 tell you again and again that my forgery on the bank will 
be detected, and that transportation will be the smallest penalty 
inflicted ; part of the forgery, as you know, was committed on your 
behalf, to find the moneys necesary for the research for your son — 
committed on the clear understanding, that our project on Helen 
should repay me — should enable me ? perhaps undetected, to restore 
the sums illegally abstracted, or, at the worst, to confess to Stubmore, 
whose character I well know — that oppressed by difficulties, I had 

S elded to temptation — that I had forged his name (as I had forged 
s father's) as an authority to sell the capital from the bank, and that 
now, in replacing the money, I repaid my error, and threw myself on 
his indulgence — on his silence. I say, that I know enough of the 
man to know, that I should be thus cheaply saved ; or at the worst, I 
should have but to strengthen his compassion by a bribe to his avarice, 
but if I cannot replace the money — I am lost." 

" Well, well," said Lucretia, " the money you shall have, let me but 
find my son, and " 

" Grant me patience ! " cried Varney, impetuously ; " but what can 

four son do, if found, unless you endow him with the heritage of 
jaughton? To do that, Helen, who comes next to Percival St. John, 
in the course of the entail, must cease to live ! Have I not aided — 
am I not aiding you hourly, in your grand objects ? This evening I 
shall see a man whom I have long^ lost sight of, but who has acquired 
in a lawyer's life the true scent alter evidence; — if that evidence exist, 
it shall be found. I have just learned his address. By to-morrow he 
shall be on the track. I have stinted myself to save from the results 
of the last forgery the gold to whet his zeal. For the rest, as 1 have 
said, your design involves the removal of two lives. Already, over 
the one ^ore difficult to slay, the shadow creeps and the pall hangs. 
I have won, as you wished, and as was necessary, young St. John's 
familiar acquaintance ; when the hour comes, he is in my hands." 

Lucretia smiled sternly : " So ! " she said, between her ground 
teeth, " the father forbade me the house that was my heritage ! I 
have but to lift a finger and breathe a word, and, desolate as I am, I 
thrust from that home the son ! The spoiler left me the world — I leave 
bis son the grave ! " 

" But," said Varney, doggedly pursuing his dreadful object, " why 
force me to repeat that his is not the only life between you and your 
6on's inheritance ? St. John gone, Helen still remains. And what, 



183 LT/CBETIA. 

if your researches fail, are we to lose the rich harvest which Helen 
will yield us — a harvest you reap with the same sickle which gathers 
in your revenge ? Do you no longer see in Helen's face the features 
of her mother ? Is the perfidy of William Mainwaring forgotten or 
forgiven ? " 

" Gabriel Vamey," said Lucretia, in a hollow and tremulous voice, 
" when in that hour in which my whole being was revulsed, and I 
heard the cord snap from the anchor, and saw tbe demons of the storm 
gather round my bark — when, in that hour, I stooped calmly down 
and kissed my rival's brow, I murmured an oath, which seemed not 
inspired by my own soul, but by an influence henceforth given to my 
fate — I vowed that the perfidy dealt to me should be repaid — I vowed 
that the ruin of my own existence should fall on the brow which I 
kissed. I vowed that if shame and disgrace were to_ supply the inhe- 
ritance I had forfeited, I would not stand alone amidst the scorn of 
the pitiless world. In the vision of my agony, I saw, afar, the altar 
dressed, and the bride-chamber prepared, and I breathed my curse, 
strong as prophecy, on the marriage hearth and the marriage-bed. 
Why dream, then, that I would rescue the loathed child of that 
loathed union from your grasp ? — But is the time come ? Yours may 
be come — is mine ? " 

Something so awful there was in the look of his accomplice — so 
intense in the hate of her low voice — that Varney, wretch as he was, 
and contemplating at that very hour the foulest and most hideous 
guilt, drew hack, appalled. 

Madame Dalibard resumed, and in a somewhat softer tone, but 
softened only by the anguish of despair. 

" Oh, had it been otherwise, what might I have been! Given 
over from that hour to the very incarnation of plotting crime — none 
to resist the evil impulse of my own maddening heart— the partner, 
forced on me by fate, leading me deeper and deeper into the inex- 
tricable hell — from that hour, fraud upon fraud, guilt upon guilt, 
infamy heaped on infamy, till I stand a marvel to myself that the 
thunderbolt falls not — that Nature thrusts not from her breast a 
living outrage on all her laws ! Was I not justified in the desire of 
retribution ? Every step that I fell, every glance that I gave to the 

gulf below, increased but in me the desire for revenge. All my acts 
ad flowed from one fount — should the stream roll pollution, and the 
fount spring pure : 




as 

to live ! Nay, when, by chance^ I heard of William Mainwaring's 
death, I bowed down my head, and I almost think I wept. The old 
days came back upon me. Yes, I wept ! But I had not destroyed 
their love. No, no ; there, I had miserably failed. A pledge of that 
love lived. I had left their hearth barren ; Fate sent them a com- 
fort, which I had not foreseen. And suddenly my hate returned, my 
wrongs rose again, my vengeance was not sated. The love that 
had destroyed more than my life — my soul, rose again and cursed ma 



LUCJIETU. 183 

ti the face of Helen. The oath which I took when I kissed my rival's 
Brow, demanded another prey when I kissed the child of those 
nuptials." 

You are prepared at last, then, to act?" cried Varney, in a tone 
of savage joy. 

At that moment, close under the window, rose, sudden and sweet, 
the voice of one singing — the young voice of Helen. The words 
were so distinct that they came to the ea0oi the dark-plotting, and 
guilty pair. In the song itself there was little to remark, or pecu- 
liarly apposite to the consciences of those who heard j yet in the 
extreme and touching purity of the voice, and in the innocence of 
the general spirit of the words, trite as might be the image they con- 
veyed, there was something that contrasted so fearfully their own 
thoughts and minds, that_ they sat silent, looking vacantly into 
each other's faces, and shrinking perhaps to turn their eyes within 
themselves. 

HELEN'S HYMN. 

" Ye fade, yet still how sweet, ye Flowers t 
Your scent outlives the bloom I 
So, Father, may my mortal hours 
Grow sweeter towards the tomb I 

" In withered leaves a healing cure 
The simple gleaners find ; 
So may our withered hopes endure 
In virtues left behind ! 

" Oh, not to me be vainly given 
The lesson ye bestow, 
Of thoughts that rise in sweets to Heaven, 
And tunj to use below." 

The song died, but still the listeners remained silent, till at length 
shaking off the effect, with his laugh of discordant irony, Varney 
said, — 

" Sweet innocence, fresh from the nursery ! Would it not be sin. 
to suffer the world to mar it ? You hear the prayer — why not grant 
it, and let the flower ' turn to use below ?'" 

"Ah, but could it wither first!" muttered Lucretia, with an 
accent of suppressed rage. "Do you think that her — that his — 
daughter is to me but a vulgar life to be sacrificed merely for gold ? 
Imagine away your sex, man ! Women only know what I — such as I, 
woman still — feel in the presence of the pure ! Do you fancy that I 
should not have held death a blessing, if death could have found me in 
youth such as Helen is ? Ah, could she but live to suffer ! Die ! 
Well, since it must be — since my son requires the sacrifice — do as you 
will with the victim that death mercifully snatches from my grasp. 
I could have wished to prolong her life, to load it with some fragment 
of the curse her parents heaped upon me ! — baffled love, and ruin, 
and despair ! I could have hoped, in this division of the spoil, that 
mine had been the vengeance, if yours the gold. You want the 
■^1 the heart ; — the heart to torture first, and then — why then — more 



184 LTJCRETIA. 

willingly than I jo now, could I have thrown the carcase to the 
jackal!" 

Listen!" began Varney, when the door opened, and Helen herself 
stood unconsciously smiling at the threshold. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE LAWYER AND THE BODY-SNATCHER. 

That same evening, Beck, according to appointment, met Percival, 
and showed him the dreary-looking house, which held the fair stranger 
who had so attracted his youthful fancy. And Percival looked at the 
aigh walls, with the sailor's bold desire for adventure, while confused 
visions reflected from plays, operas, and novels, in which scaling walls 
with rope ladders and dark lanterns, was represented as the natural 
avocation of a lover, flitted across his brain; — and certainly he gave 
a deep sigh, as his common sense plucked him back from such 
romance. However, having now ascertained the house, it would be 
easy to learn the name of its inmates, and to watch or make his 
opportunity. As slowly and reluctantly he walked back to the spot 
where he had left his cabriolet, he entered into some desultory con- 
versation with his strange guide ; and the pity he had before con- 
ceived for Beck increased upon him, as he talked and listened. This 
benighted mind, only illumined by a kind of miserable astuteness, and 
that ' cunning of the belly' which is born of want to engender avarice 
— this joyless temperament— this age in youth — this living reproach, 
rising up from the stones of London against our social indifference to 
the souls which wither and rot under the hard eyes of science and the 
deaf ears of wealth, had a pathos for his lively sympathies and his 
fresh heart. 

" If ever you want a friend, come to me," said St. John, abruptly. 

The sweeper stared, and a gleam of diviner nature, a ray of gra- 
titude and unselfish devotion, darted through the fog and darkness of 
his mind. He stood, with his hat off, watching the wheels of the 
cabriolet, as it bore away the happy child of fortune, and then, 
shaking his head, as at some puzzle that perplexed and defied 
his comprehension, strode back to the town, and bent his way 
homeward. 

Between two and three hours after Percival thus parted from the 
.weeper, a man whose dress was little in accordance with the scene 
in which we present him, threaded his way through a foul labyrinth 
of alleys in the worst part of St. Giles's : a neighbourhood, indeed, 
carefully shunned at dusk, by wealthy passengers ; for here dwelt not 
only Penury in its grimmest shape, but the desperate and dangerous 
fiuilt, which is not to be Hghtly encounteredin its haunts and domi- 
ciles. Here children imbibe vice with their mother's milk. Here 
Prostitution, commencing with childhood, grows fierce and san- 



LUCIIETIA. 1!J5 

guinary in the teens, and leagues with theft and murder. Here slinks 
the pickpocket — here emerges the burglar— here skulks the felon. 
Yet all about and all around, here, too, may be found virtue in its 
rarest and noblest form — virtue outshining circumstance and defying 
temptation— the virtue of utter poverty, which groans and yet sins 
not. So interwoven are these webs of penury and fraud, that in one 
court your life is not safe, but turn to the right hand, and in the 
other, you might sleep safely in that worse than Irish shealing, 
Jiuugh your pockets were full of gold. Through these haunts, the 
ragged and penniless may walk unfearing, for they have nothing to 
dread from the lawless — more, perhaps, from the law; but the 
wealthy, the respectable, the spruce, the dainty, let them beware the 
spot, unless the policeman is in sight, or day is in the skies ! 

As this passenger, whose appearance, as we have implied, was cer- 
tainly not that of a denizen, turned into one of the alleys, a rough 
hand seized him by the arm, and suddenly a group of girls and tat- 
terdemalions issued from a house, in which the lower shutters 
unclosed, showed a light burning, and surrounded him with a hoarse 
whoop. 

The passenger whispered a word in the ear of the grim blackguard 
who had seized him, and his arm was instantly released. 

"Hist! a pal: he has the catch," said the blackguard, surlily. The 
group gave way, and by the light of the clear starlit skies, and a single 
lamp hung at the entrance of the alley, gazed upon the stranger. But 
they made no effort to detain him ; and as he disappeared in the dis- 
tant shadows, hastened back into the wretched hostelry, where they 
had been merry-making. Meanwhile, the stranger gamed a narrow 
court, and stopped before a house in one of its angles — a house taller 
than the rest, — so much taller than the rest, that it had the effect of a 
tower; you would have supposed it (perhaps rightly) to be the last 
remains_ of some ancient building of importance, around which, as 
population thickened, and fashion changed, the huts below it had 
insolently sprung up. Quaint and massive pilasters, black with the 
mire and soot of centuries, flanked the deep-set door ; the windows 
were heavy with mullions and transoms, and strongly barred in the 
lower floor ; but few of the panes were whole, and only here and there 
had any attempts been made to keep out the wind and rain by rags, 
paper, old shoes, old hats, and other ingenious contrivances. Beside 
the door was conveniently placed a row of some ten or twelve bell- 
pulls, appertaining no doubt to the various lodgments into which the 
building was subdivided. The stranger did not seem very familiar 
with the appurtenances of the place. He stood in some suspense, as 
to the proper bell to select ; but at last, guided by a brass-plate 
annexed to one of the pulls, which, though it was too dark to decipher 
the inscription, denoted a claim to superior gentility than the rest of 
that nameless class, he hazarded a tug, which brought forth a larum 
loud enough to startle the whole court from its stillness. 

In a minute or less the casement in one of the upper stories opened, 
a dead peered forth, and one of those voices peculiar to low debauch 
—raw, cracked, and hoarse— called out, "Who waits P" 

" Is it you, Grabman ?" asked the stranger, dubiously. 

o 



183 liUC'KETIA. 

" Yes ; Nicholas Grabman, attorney-at-law, sir, at your service: and 
your name ? " 

" Jason," answered tlie stranger. 

" Ho ! there — ho ! Beck ! " cried the cracked voice to some one 
within ; " go down and open the door." 

In a few moments the heavy portal swung and creaked, and yawned 
sullenly, and a gaunt form, half -undressed, with an inch of a farthing 
rushlight, glimmering through a battered lantern, in its hand, pre- 
sented itself to Jason. The last eyed the ragged porter sharply. 

" Do yon live here ? " 

" Yes," answered Beck, with the cringe habitual to him. " H-up 
the ladder, vith the rats, drat' em." 

" Well, lead on — hold up the lantern ; a devil of a dark place this !" 
grumbled Jason, as he nearly stumbled over sundry broken chattels, 
and gained a flight of rude, black, broken stairs, that creaked under 
his tread. 

" 'St ! 'st ! " said Beck, between his teeth, as the stranger, halting 
at the second floor, demanded, in no gentle tones, whether Mr. Grab- 
man lived in the chimney-pots. 

" 'St ! 'st ! — don't make such a rumpus, or No. 7 will be 
at you." 

" What do I care for No. 7 ?— and who the devil is No. 7 ? " 

"A body-snatcher!" whispered Beck, with a shudder. "He's a 
dillicut sleeper, and can't abide having his night's rest sp'ilt. And 
he's the houtrageoustest great cretur, when he's h-up in his tantrums 
—it makes your air stand on ind to ear him ! " 

" I should like very much to hear him, then," said the stranger, 
curiously. And while he spoke, the door of No. 7 opened abruptly. 
A huge head, covered with matted hair, was thrust for a moment 
through the aperture, and two dull eyes, that seem covered with a 
film, like that of the birds which feed on the dead, met the stranger's 
bold sparkling orbs. 

" Hell and fury ! " bawled out the voice of this ogre like a clap of 
near thunder, " if you two keep— tramp, tramp there close at my door, 
I'll make you meat for the surgeons— b you ! " 

" Stop a moment, my civil friend," said the stranger, advancing ; 
"just stand where you are ; I should like to make a sketch of 
your head." 

That head protruded farther from the door, and with it an enormous 
bulk of chest and shoulder. But the adventurous visitor was not to 
be daunted. He took out, very coolly, a pencil, and the back of a 
letter, and began his sketch. 

The body-snatcher stared at him an instant in mute astonishment ; 
but that operation and the composure of the artist were so new to him, 
that they actually inspired him with terror. He slunk back— banged 
to the door ; and the stranger, putting up his implements, said, with 
a disdainful laugh, to Beck, who had slunk away into a corner, — 

"No. 7 knows well how to take care of No. 1. Lead on, and be 
quick, then ! " 

As they continued to mount, they heard the body-snatcher growl- 
ing and blaspheming in his den, and the sound made Beck clamber 



LUCKETIA. 1S7 

ll-.e quicker, till at the next landing-place, he took breath, threw open 
a door, and Jason, pushing him aside, entered first. 

The interior of the room bespoke better circumstances than might 
have bv;en supposed from the approach; the floor was covered with 
sundry scraps of carpets, formerly of different hues and patterns, but 
mellowed by time into one threadbare mass of grease and canvas. 
There was a good fire on the hearth, though the night was warm ; 
there were sundry volumes piled round the walls, m the binding 
peculiar to law books ; in a corner stood a tall desk, of the fashion 
used by clerks, perched on tall slim legs, and companioned by a tall 
slim stool. On a table before the fire were scattered the remains of 
the nightly meal, — broiled bones, the skeleton of a herring; and the 
steam rose from a tumbler containing a liquid colourless as water, but 
poisonous as gin. 

The room was squaUd and dirty, and bespoke mean and slovenly 
habits ; but it did not bespeak penury and want ; it had even an air 
of filthy comfort of its own — the comfort of the swine in its warm sty. 
The occupant of the chamber was in keeping with the localities. 
Figure to yourself a man of middle height — not thin, but void of all 
muscular flesh, bloated, puffed, unwholesome. He was dressed in a 
grey flannel gown and short breeches, the stockings wrinkled and dis- 
tained, the feet hi slippers. The stomach was that of a portly man, 
the legs those of a skeleton ; the cheeks, full and swollen, like a 
ploughboy's, but livid, bespeckled, of a dull lead-colour, like a patient 
m the dropsy. The head, covered in patches with thin yellowish hair, 
gave some promise of intellect, for the forehead was high, and appeared 
still more so from partial baldness ; the eyes, embedded in fat and 
wrinkled skin, were small and lustreless, but they still had that acute 
look which education and ability communicate to the human orb ; the 
mouth most showed Ihe animal — full-lipped, coarse, and sensual; 
while behind one of two great ears stuck a pen. 

You see before you, then, this slatternly figure — slip-shod, half- 
clothed, with a sort of shabby demi-gentility about it — half raga- 
muffin, half clerk ; while in strong contrast appeared the new comer, 
scrupulously neat, new — with bright black satin stock, coat cut 
jauntily to the waist, varnished boots, kid gloves, and trim 
moustache. 

Behind this sleek and comely personage, on knock -knees, in torn 
shirt open at the throat, with apathetic, listless, unlighted face, stood 
the lean and gawky Beck. 

" Set a chair for the gentleman," said the inmate of the chamber to 
Beck, with a dignified wave of the hand. 

" How do you do, Mr. — Mr.— humph — Jason ? — how do you do ? — 
always smart and blooming ; the world thrives with you." 

"The world is a farm, that thrives with all who till it properly, 
Grabman," answered Jason, drily; and with his handkerchief he 
carefully dusted the chair, on which he then daintily deposited his 
person. 

"But who is your Ganymede, — your valet, — your gentleman 
usher ? " 

" Oh > a lad about town, who lodges above, and does odd iobs 

02 



1B8 LiEC'llBTlA. 

for me — brushes my coat, cleans my shoes, and after his day's work 
goes an errand now and then. Make yourself scarce, Beck ! — Anatomy, 
vanish ! " 

Beck grinned, nodded, pulled hard at a flake of his hair, and closed 
the door. 

" One of your brotherhood, that ? " asked Jason, carelessly. 
_ " He, oaf ! — no," said Grabham, with profound contempt in his 
sickly visage. " He works for his bread ! — instinct ! — turnspits, and 
truffle-dogs, and some silly men have it ! What an age since we met 
— shall I mix you a tumbler ? " 

" You know I never drink your vile spirits ; though in Champagne 
and Bordeaux I am any man's match." 

" And how the devil do you keep old black thoughts out of your 
mind by those washy potations ? " 

" Old black thoughts !— of what ? " 

" Of black actions, Jason. We have not met since you paid 
me for recommending the nurse Mho attended your uncle in his last 
illncss r ? " 

" Well, poor coward ? " 

Grabman knit his thin eyebrows, and gnawed his blubber lips, — 

" I am no coward, as you know." 

" Not when a thing is to be done, but after it is done. You brave 
the substance, and tremble at the shadow. I dare say you see ugly 
goblins in the dark, Grabman ? " 

" Ay, ay ; but it is no use talking to you. You call yourself Jason 
because of your yellow hair, or your love for the golden fleece ; but 
your old comrades call you Rattlesnake ; and you have its blood, as 
its venom." 

"And its charm, man," added Jason, with a strange smile, that, 
though hypocritical and constrained, had yet a certain softness, and 
added greatly to the comeliness of features, which many might call 
beautiful, and all would allow to be regular and symmetrical. " I 
shall find at least ten love-letters on my table when I go home. But 
enough of these fopperies ; I am here on business." 

"Law, of course; I am your man— who's the victim?" and a 
hideous grin on Grabman's face contrasted the sleek smile that yet 
lingered upon his visitor's. 

" No ; something less hazardous, but not less lucrative than our 
old practices. This is a business that may bring you hundreds, 
thousands— that may take you from this hovel, to speculate at the 
West End— that may change your gin into Laffitte, and your herring 
into venison— that may lift the broken attorney again upon the wheel, 
— again to roll down, it may be ; but that is your affair." 

" 'Pore Gad, open the case," cried Grabman, eagerly, and, shoving 
aside the ignoble relics of his supper, he leaned his elbows on the 
table, and his chin on Ms damp palms, while eyes that positively 
brightened into an expression ot greedy and relentless intelligence, 
were fixed upon his visitpr. 

" The case runs thus," said Jason : " Once upon a time, there lived, 
at an old house in Hampshire, called Laughton, a wealthy baronet 
lamed St. John. He was a bachelor — bis estates at his own discosal 



LUCKETU. 1S9 

He had two nieces and a more distant kinsman. His eldest niece 
lived with him— she was supposed to be destined for his heiress; 
circumstances, needless to relate, brought upon this girl her uncle's 
displeasure— she was dismissed his house. Shortly afterwards he 
died, leaving to his kinsman— a Mr. Vernon — his estates, with 
remainder to Vernon's issue, and, in default thereof— first, to the 
issue of the vounger niece, next to that of the elder and disinherited 
one. The elder married, and was left a widow, without children. 
She married again, and had a son. Her second husband, for some 
reason or other, conceived ill opinions of his wife. _ In his last illness 
(he did not live long) he resolved to punish the wife by robbing the 
mother. He sent away the son— nor have we been able to discover 
him since. It is that son whom you are to find." 

"I see, I see !— go on," said Grabman. "This son is now the 
remainderman. How lost ? — when ? — what year ? — what trace ? " 

"Patience ! You will find in this paper the date of the loss, and 
the age of the child, then a mere infant. Now for the trace. This 
husband— did I tell you his name ? — no — Alfred Braddell— had one 
friend more intimate than the rest — John Walter Ardworth, a 
cashiered officer, a ruined man, pursued by bill-brokers, Jews, and 
bailiffs. To this man we have lately had reason to believe that the 
child was given. Ardworth, however, was shortly afterwards obliged 
to fly his creditors. We know that he went to India, but if residing 
there, it must have been under some new name, and we fear he is now- 
dead. All our inquiries at least, after this man, have been fruitless. 
Before he went abroad, he left with his old tutor a child, corresponding 
in age to that of Mrs. Braddell's. In this child she thinks she recog- 
nises her son. All that you have to do is to trace his identity, by 
good legal evidence— don't smile in that foolish way — I mean sound, 
bond fide evidence, that will stand the fire of cross-examination; you 
know what that is ! You will therefore find out— first, whether Brad- 
dell did consign his child to Ardworth, and, if so, you must then 
follow Ardworth, with that child in his keeping, to Matthew Fielden's 
house, whose address you find noted in the paper I gave you, together 
with many other memoranda as to Ardworth's creditors, and those 
whom lie is likely to have come across." 

" John Ardworth, I see ! " 

" John Walter Ardworth, commonly called Walter ; he, like me, 
preferred to be known only by his second baptismal name. He, 
because of a favourite Radical godfather — I, because Honove is an 



inconvenient Gallicism, and perhaps when Honore Mirabeau {my god- 
father) went out of fashion with the sans-culottes, my fat' 
Gabriel a safer designation. Now I have told you all ! " 



" What is the mother's maiden name ?" 

"Her maiden name was Clavering ; she was married under that of 
Dalibard, her first husband." 

" And," said Grabman, looking over the notes in the paper given to 
him, " it is at Liverpool that the husband died, and whence the child 
was sent away ? " 

" It is so ; to Liverpool you will go first. I tell you fairly, the task 
is difficult, for hitherto it lias foiled me. I knew but one man who. 



i'.)0 LUCRETIA. 

without flattery, could succeca ; aiid therefore I spared no pains to 
find out Nicholas Grabman. You have the true ferret's faculty ; you, 
too, are a lawyer, and snuff evidence in every breath. Find up a son 
— a legal son — a son to be shown in a court of law, and the moment 
he steps into the lands and the hall of Laughton, you have £5,000." 

" Can I have a bond to that effect ?" 

" My bond, I fear, is worth no more than my word. Trust to the 
last r— — if I break it, you know enough of my secrets to hang me !" 

" Don't talk of hanging — I hate that subject. But stop — if found, 
docs this con succeed ? Did this Mr. Vernon leave no heir — this 
other sister continue single, or prove barren ?" 

" Oh, true ! he, Mr. Vernon, who by will took the name of St. John, 
— lie left issue — but only one son still survives, a minor and un- 
married. The _ sister, too, left a daughter; both are poor, sickly 
creatures — their lives not worth a straw. Never mind them. You 
find Vincent Braddell, and he will not be long out of his property, nor 
you out of your £5,000 ! You see, under these circumstances, a bond 
might become dangerous evidence !" 

Grabman emitted a fearful and tremulous chuckle — a laugh, like 
the laugh of a superstitious man when you talk to him of ghosts and 
churchyards. He chuckled — and his hair bristled ! But, after a 
pause, in which he seemed to wrestle with his own conscience, he 
said — " Well, well, you are a strange man, Jason, you love your joke 
— I have nothing to do, except to find out this ultimate remainder- 
man— mind that !" _ 

" Perfectly ; nothing like subdivision of labour." 

"The search will be expensive !" 

"There is oil for your wheels," answered Jason, putting a note- 
book into his confidant's hands. "But mind, you waste it not; no 
tricks, no false play, with me ; you know Jason, or if you like the 
name better, you know the Rattlesnake !" 

"1 will account for every penny," said Grabman, eagerly, and 
clasping his hands, while his pale face grew livid. 

" I do not doubt it, my quill-driver. Look sharp, start to-morrow ! 
Get thyself decent clothes, be sober, cleanly, and respectable. Act 
as a man who sees before him five thousand pounds. And now, 
light me down stairs." 

With the candle in his hand, Grabman stole down the rugged steps 
even more timorously than Beck had ascended them^ and put his 
finger to liis mouth as they came in the dread vicinity of No. 7. But 
Jason, or rather Gabriel vamcy, with that fearless, reckless bravado 
of temper, which, while causing half his guilt, threw at times a false 
glitter over its baseness, piqued by the cowardice of his comrade — 
gave a lusty kick at the closed door, and shouted out — " Old grave- 
stealer, come out, and let me finish your picture. Out, out ! — I say 
— out !" Grabman left the candle on the steps, and made but three 
bounds to his own room. 

At the third shout of his disturber, the Resurrection-man threw 
open his door, violently, and appeared at the gap — the upward flare 
of the candle showing the deep lines ploughed in his hideous face, 
and the immense strength of his gigantic trunk and limbs. Slight, 



LTTC:i>"m. 191 

fair, and delicate a3 he was, Varnoy eyed Jiim deliberately, ana 
trei!!!;!f:J not. 

" What do you want with me ? " said the terrible voice, tremulous 
with rage. 

" Only to finish your portrait, as Pluto. He was the god of Hell, 
you know ! " 

The next moment, the vast hand of the ogre hung like a great 
cloud over Gabriel Varney. This last, ever on his guard, sprang 
aside, ami the light gleamed on the steel of a pistol. ' Hands off! — ■ 
or " 

The click of the pistol-cock finished the sentence. The ruffian 
halted. A glare of disappointed fury gave a momentary lustre to his 
dull eyes. " P'raps, I shall meet you again one o' these days, or 
nights, and I shall know ye in ten thousand. 5 ' 

" Nothing like a bird in the hand, Master Grave-stealer ! Where 
can toe ever meet again ? " 

" P'raps in the fields — p'raps on the road— p'raps at the Old Bailey 
— p'raps at the gallows — p'raps in the convict-ship. I knows what 
that is ! I was chained night and day once to a chap jist like you — 
didn't I break his spurit — didn't I spile his sleep P Ho, ho ! — you 
looks a bit less varmently howdacious now — my flash cove ! " 

Yarney hitherto had not known one pang of fear, one quicker beat 
of the heart before. But the image presented to his irritable fancy 
(always prone to brood over terrors) the image of that companion — 
chained to him night and day — suddenly quelled his courage — the 
image stood before him palpably like the Oulos Oneiros — the Evil 
Dream of the Greeks. 

He breathed loud. The body-stealer's stupid sense saw that he had 
produced the usual effect of terror, which gratified his brutal self- 
esteem ; he retreated slowly, inch by inch, to the door, followed by 
Varney's appalled and staring eye— and closed it with such violence, 
that the candle was extinguished. 

Varney, not daring — yes, literally not daring— to call aloud to Grab- 
man for another light, crept down the dark stairs with hurried, ghost- 
like steps — and, after groping at the door-handle with one hand, 
while the other grasped his pistol, with a strain of horror, he suc- 
ceeded at last in winning access to the street, and stood a moment to 
collect himself, in the open air — the damps upon his forehead, and his 
limbs trembling like one who has escaped by a hair-breadth the crash 
ci a falling house. 



tVI I.UCE5T1A. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE RAPE OP THE MATTKESS. 

That Mr. Grabman slept calmly that night, is probable enough, for 
his gin-bottle was empty the next morning ; and it was with eyes 
more than usually heavy that he dozily followed the movements of 
Beck, who, according to custom, opened the shutters of the little den 
adjoining bis sitting-room, brushed his clothes, made his fire, set on 
the kettle to boil, and laid his breakfast things, preparatory to his 
own departure to the duties of the day. Stretching himself, however, 
and shaking off slumber, as the remembrance of the enterprise he had 
undertaken glanced pleasantly across him, Grabman sat up inhis bed, 
and said in a voice that if not maudlin was affectionate, and if not 
affectionate was maudlin, — 

" Beck, you are a good fellow ! You have faults— you are human ; 
himamtm est errare, which means that you sometimes scorch my 
muffins. But, take you all in all, you are a kind creature. Beck, I 
am going into the country for some days. I shall leave my key in the 
hole in the wall — you know ; take care of it when you come in. You 
were out late last night, my poor fellow. Very wrong ! Look well 
to yourself, or who knows, you may be clutched by that blackguard 
Resurrection-man, No. 7. Well, well ! to think of that Jason's fool- 
hardiness. But he's the worse devil of the two. Eh ! what was I 
saying ? And always give a look into my room every night before 
you go to roost. The place swarms with cracksmen, and one can't be 
too cautious. Lucky dog, you, to have nothing to be robbed of ! " 

_ Beck winced at that last remark. Grabman did not seem to notice 
his confusion, and proceeded, as he put on his stockings, "And Beck, 
you are a good fellow, and have served me faithfully ; when I come 
back, I will bring you something handsome — a baekey-box — or, who 
knows, a beautiful silver watch. Meanwhile, I think — let me see— 
yes, I can give you this elegant pair of small-clothes. Put out my 
best — the black ones. And now, Beck, I'll not keep you any 
longer." 

The poor sweep, with many pulls at his forelock, acknowledged the 
munificent donation, and having finished all his preparations, hastened 
first to his room, to examhie at leisure, and with great admiration, 
the drab small-clothes. Room, indeed, we can scarcely style the 
wretched inclosure which Beck called his own. It was at the top of 
the house, under the roof, and hot — oh, so hot, in the summer! It 
had one small begrimed window, through which the light of heaven 
never came, for the parapet, beneath which ran the choked gutter, 
prevented that. But the rain and the wind came in. So sometimes, 
through four glassless panes, came a fugitive tom-cat. As for the 
rats, they held the place as their own. Accustomed to Beck, they 



UJCRETIA. 193 

cared nothing for him. They were the Mayors of that Palace — lie 
only le roi faineant. They ran over his bed at night ; he often felt 
them on his face, and was convinced they would have eaten hrm, if 
there had been anything worth eating upon his bones ; still, perhaps 
out of precaution rather than charity, he generally left them a potato 
or two, or a crust of bread, to take off the edge of their appetites. 
But Beck was far better oft* than most who occupied the various set- 
lements in that Alsatia— he had his room to himself. That was 
necessary to his sole luxury— the inspection of his treasury, the safety 
of his mattress ; for it he paid, without grumbling, what he thought 
was a very high rent. To this hole in the roof there was no lock, — 
for a very good reason, there was no door to it. You went up a 
ladder, as you would go into a loft. Now, it had often been matter 
of mucli intense cogitation to Beck, whether or not he should have a 
door to this chamber ; and the result of the cogitation was invariably 
the same — he dared not ! What should he want with a door — a door 
with a lock to it — for one followed as a consequence to the other. 
Such a novel piece of grandeur would be an ostentatious advertise- 
ment that he had something to guard. He could have no pretence 
for it on the ground that he was intruded on by neighbours ; no step 
but his own was ever caught by him ascending that ladder ; it led to 
no other room. All the offices required for the lodgment he per- 
formed himself. His supposed poverty was a better safeguard than 
doors of iron. Besides this, a door, if dangerous, would be super- 
fluous ; the moment it was suspected that Beck had something worth 
guarding, that moment all the picklocks and skeleton keys in the 
neighbourhood would be in a jingle. And a cracksman of high repute 
lodged already on the ground-floor. So Beck's treasure, like the 
bira's-nest, was deposited as much out of sight as his instinct could 
contrive ; and the locks and bolts of civilized men were equally 
dispensed with by bird and Beck. 

On a rusty nail the sweep suspended the drab small-clothes, 
stroked them down lovingly, and murmured, " They be's too good for 
I — I should like to pop 'em ! But vouldn't that be a shame ? Beck, 
ben't you a hungrateful beast to go for to think of nothin' but the 
tin, yen your 'art ought to varm with hemotion ? I vill vear 'em ven 
I vaits on him. Ven he sees his own smalls bringing in the muffins, 
he will say, 'Beck, you becomes em ! ' " 

Fraught with this noble resolution, the sweep caught up his broom, 
crept down the ladder, and, with a furtive glance at the door of the 
room in which the cracksman lived, let himself out, and shambled his 
way to his crossing. Grabman, in the meanwhile, dressed himself 
with more care than usuah shaved his beard from a four-days' crop, 
and, while seated at his breakfast, read attentively over the notes 
which Yarney had left to him, pausing at times to make his own 
pencil memoranda. He then packed up such few articles as so mode- 
rate a worshipper of the Graces might require, deposited them in an 
old blue brief-bag j and this done, he opened his door, and creeping 
to the threshold listened carefully. Below, a few sounds might be 
heard ; here, the wail of a child — there, the shrill scold of a woman, 
in that accent above all others adapted to scold— the Irish. Farther 



194, 



LCCitETIA. 



>,: 



down still, the deep bass oath of the choleric Resurrection-man ; hut 
above, all was silent. Only one floor intervened between Grabmau's 
apartment and the ladder that led to Beck's loft. And the inmates 
of that room gave no sound of life. Grabman took courage, and, 
shuffling off his shoes, ascended the stairs ; he passed the closed door 
.■)f the room above— he seized the ladder with a shaking hand— he 
mounted, — step after step— he stood in Beck's room. 

Now, Nicholas Grabman, some moralists may be harsh enough 
to condemn thee for what thou art doing : kneeling yonder in the dim 
%ht, by that curtainless pallet, with greedy fingers feeling here and 
ftere and a placid, self-hugging smile upon thy pale lips. That 
jioov vagabond, whom thou art about to despoil, has served thee well 
&nd faithfully, has borne witu thine ill-humours, thy sarcasms, thy 
swearings, thy kicks and buffets— often, when in the bestial sleep of 
drunkenness, he has found thee stretched helpless on thy floor, with a 
kindly hand he has moved away the sharp fender, too near that 
Knavish head, now bent on his ruin ; or closed the open window, lest 
the keen air, that thy breath tainted, should visit thee wi'h rheum 
and fever. Small has been hii gaerdon for uncomplaining sacrifice of 
the few hours spared to the weary drudge from his daily toil— small, 
hut gratefully received. And if Beck had been taught to pray, he 
would have prayed for thee as for a good man, miserable sinner ! 
Arid thou art going now, Nicholas Grabman, upon an enterprise which 
promises thee large gains, and thy purse ls filled ; and thou wantest 
nothing for thy wants, or thy swinish luxuries. Why should those 
shaking fingers itch for the poor beggar-man's hoards ? 

But hadst thou been bound on an errand that would have given 
thee a million, thou wouldst not have left unrifled that secret store 
which thy prying eye had discovered, a/id thy hungry heart had 
coveted. No ; since one night, fatal., alas ! to the owner of loft and 
treasure, when, needing Beck for some service, and fearing to call 
aloud (for the Resurrection-man in the floor below thee, whose oaths 
even now ascend to thine ear, sleeps ill, and has threatened to make 
thee mute for ever if thou disturbest him in the few nights in which 
his dismal calling suffers him to sleep at all) — thou didst creep up 
the ladder, and didst see the unconscious miser at his nightly work, 
and after the sight, didst steal down again, smiling — no ; since that 
night, no schoolboy ever more rootedly and ruthlessly set his mind 
opon nest of linnet, than thine was set upon the stores in Beck's 
mattress. 

And yet why, lawyer, should rigid moralists blame thee more 
than such of thy tribe as live honoured and respectable, upon the 
frail and the poor ? Who among them ever left loft or mattress while 
a rap could be rung from either ? Matters it to Astrsea, whether the 
spoliation be made, thus nakedly and briefly, or by all the acknow- 
ledged forms in _ which item on item, six-and-eightpence on six-and- 
eightpence, the inexorable hand closes, at length, on the last farthing 
of duped despair ? Not — Heaven forbid ! — that we make thee, foul 
Nicholas Grabman, a type for all the class called actomeys-at-law ! 
Noble hearts, liberal minds, are there amongst that brotherhood, we 
know, and have experienced ; but a type art thou of those whoia 



LUCKETIA. 19& 

want, and error, mid need have proved— alas, too well — llic lawyers 
of the puor. And even while we write, and even while ye read, many 
a Grabman steals from helpless toil the savings of a life. 

Ye poor hoards — darling delights of your otherwise joyless owner 
—how easily has his very fondness made ye the prey of the spoiler ! 
How gleefully when the pence swelled into a shilling have they been 
exchanged into the new bright piece of silver, the newest and brightest 
that could be got ; then the s hillin gs into crowns, then the crowns 
into gold— got slily and at a distance, u.id contemplated with what 
rapture ! — so that, at last, the total lay manageable and light in its 
radiant compass. And what a total ! — what a surprise to brahman ! 
Had it been but a sixpence, he would have taken it ; out to grasp 
sovereigns, by the handful, it was too much for him ; and, as he rose, 
he positively laughed, from a sense of fun. 

But amongst Lis booty, there was found one thing that specially 
moved his mirth — it was a cliild's coral, with its little bells. Who 
could have given Beck such a bauble — or how Beck could have 
refrained from turning it into money would have been a fit matter for 
speculation. But it was not that at which Grabman chuckled ; he 
laughed, first, because it was an emblem of the utter childishness and 
folly of the creature he was leaving penniless; and, secondly, because 
it furnished his ready wit with a capital contrivance to shift Beck's 
indignation from his own shoulders to a party more liable to suspicion. 
He "It ft the coral on the floor near the bed, stole down the ladder 
reached his own room, took up his brief-bag, locked his door, slipped 
the key in the rat-hole, where the trusty, plundered Beck alone could 
find it, and went boldly dovni stairs ; passing successively the doors, 
within which still stormed the llesurrection-man, still wailed the 
child, still shrieked the Irish shrew ; he paused at the ground-floor 
occupied by Bill the cracksman, and liis long-lingered, slender, quick- 
eved imps, trained already to pass ' hrough broken window-panes, on 
tneir precocious progress to the hulks. 

The door was open, and gave a pleasant sight of the worthy family 
withk. Bill, himself, a stout-looking fellow, with _ a florid, jolly 
countenance, and a pipe in his mouth, was sitting at his window, with, 
his brawny legs lolling on a table covered with the remains of a very 
tolerable breakfast. Eour small Bills were employed in certain sports,. 
wiiich no doubt, according to the fashionable mode of education,, 
instilled useful lessons under the artful guise of playful amusement. 
Against the wall, at one comer of the room, was affixed a row of bells, 
from which were suspended exceedingly tempting apples by slender 
wires. Two of the boys were engaged m the innocent entertainment 
of extricating the apples without occasioning any alarm from the 
bells; a third was amusing himself at a table, covered with mock 
rings and trinkets, in a way that seemed really surprising ; with the 
end of a finger dipped probably in some glutinous matter, he just 
touched one of the gew-gaws, and lo, it vanished ! — vanished so magi- 
cally, that the quickest eye could scarcely trace whither; sometimes 
r.p a cutT, sometimes into a snoe — here, Ihere, anywhere — except back. 
an ; n upon the table. The fourth, an urchin apparently about five 
>cui-j 'j'.-I ; he might be much younger, judging from his stunted size; 



.015 LUCHET1A. 

somewhat older, judging from the vicious acutcness of ms face, on the 
■floor under his father's chair, was diving his little hand into the pater- 
nal pockets in search for a marble, sportively liidden in those capa- 
cious recesses. On the rising geniuses around him, Bill the cracks- 
man looked, and his father's heart was proud. 

Pausing at the threshold, Grabman looked in, and said, cheerfully, 
" Good day to you— good day to you all, my little dears." 

"Ah, Grabman," said Bill, rising, and making a bow, for BUI 
valued himself much on his politeness — " come to blow a cloud, eh ? 
Bob !" (this to the eldest born), "manners, sir; wipe yoivr nose, and 
set a chair for the gent." 

" Many thanks to you, Bill, but I can't stay now — I have a long 
journey to take. But, bless my soul, how stupid I am ; I have for- 
gotten my clothes-brush. I knew there was something on my mind 
•all the way I was coming down stairs. I was saying to myself, 
' Grabman, there is something forgotten ! ' " 

"I know what that ere feehn' is," said Bill, thoughtfully; "I had 

it myself the night afore last ; and sure enough when I got to the ■- 

but that's neither here nor there. Bob, run up stairs, and fetch down 
Mr. Grabman's clothes-brush. "lis the least you can do for a gent 
who saved your father from the fate of them ere innocent apples,— 
your fist, Grabman. 1 have a heart in my buzzom ; — cut me open, and 
you will find there ' Halibi and Grabman ! ' Give Bob your key." 

" The brush is not in my room," answered Grabman ; " it is at the 
-lop of the house ; up the ladder, in Beck's loft — Beck, the sweeper. 
The stupid dog always keeps it there, and forgot to give it me. 
Sorry to occasion my friend Bob so much trouble." 

" Bob has a soul above trouble ; his father's heart beats in his buz- 
zom. Bob, track the dancers. Up like a lark — and down like a 
dump." 

Bob grinned, made a mow at Mr. Grabman, and scampered up the 
stairs. 

You never attends our free-and-easy," said Bill ; " but we toasts 
you, with three times three, and up standing. 'Tis a hungrateful 
world ! But some men has a heart ; and, to those who has a heart, 
Grabman is a trump ! " 

"I am sure, whenever I can do you a service, you may reckon on 
me. Meanwhile, if you could get that cursed bullying fellow who 
lives under me to be a little more civil, you v,-ould oblige me." 

" Under you ? No. 7 ? No. 7— is it ? Grabman, h-am I a man ? 
Is this a h-arm, and this a bunch of fives ? I dares do all that does 
become a man; but No. 7 is a body-snatcher ! No. 7 has bullied me 
—and I bore it ! No. 7 might whop me — and this h-arm would Jet 
■ him whop ! He lives with graves, and churchyards, and stiff 'uns — 
that damnable No. 7 ! Ask some'at else, Grabman. I dares not 
touch No. 7 any more than the ghostesses." 

Grabman sneered as he saw that Bill, stout rogue as he was, turned 
pale while he spoke ; but at that moment Bob reappeared with tha 
• «4othes-brush, whicn the ex-attorney thrust into his pocket; and 
■shaking Bill by the hand, and pattmg Bob on the head, he set out C3 
'Ais journey. 



LUCRETIA. 197 

Bill resented himself, muttering, "Bully a body-snatclier ! 'drot 
th:it Grabman, does he want to get rid of poor Bill?" 

.Meanwhile Bob exhibited slily, to his second brother, the sight of 
Beck's stolen coral. The children took care not to show it to their 
fUher. They were already inspired by the laudable ambition to set up 
in business on their own account. 



CHAPTER VIH. 

FEECIVAL VISITS LUCRETIA. 

Having once ascertained the house in which Helen lived, it was no 
difficult matter for St. John to learn the name of the guardian whom 
Beck had supposed to be her mother. No common delight mingled 
with Perciyars amaze, when in that name he recognized one borne by 
his own kinswoman. Very little, indeed, of the family history was 
known to him. Neither his father nor his mother ever willingly con- 
versed of the fallen heiress— it was a subject which the children had 
felt to be proscribed; but in the neighbourhood, Percival had, of 
course, heard some mention of Lucretia, as the haughty and accom- 
plished Miss Clavering — who had, to the astonishment of all, stooped 
to a mesalliance with her uncle's French librarian. That her loss of 
the St. John property, the succession of Percival's father, were unex- 
pected by the villagers and squires around, and perhaps set down to 
the caprice of Sir Miles, or to an intellect impaired by apoplectic 
attacks, it was not likely that he should have heard. The rich have 
the polish of their education, and the poor that instinctive tact, so 
wonderful amongst the agricultural peasantry, to prevent such unman- 
nerly disclosures or unwelcome hints ; and, both by rich and poor, the 
Vernon St. Johns were too popular and respected for wanton allusions 
to subjects calculated to pam tl.em. All, therefore, that Percival 
knew of his relation, was that she had resided from infancy with Sir 
Miles ; that after their uncle's death, she had married an inferior in 
rank, of the name of Dalibard, and settled abroad ; that she was a 
person of peculiar manners ; and, he had heard somewhere, of rare 
gifts. He had been unable to learn the name of the young lady 
staying with Madame Dalibard ; he had learned only that she went 
by some other name, and was not the daughter of the lady who rented 
the house. Certainly, it was possible that this last might not be his 
kinswoman, after all. The name, though strange to English ears, and 
not common in France, was no sufficient warrant for Percival's high 
spirits at the thought that he had now won legitimate and regular 
access to the house— still it allowed him to call; it furnished a fair 
excuse for a visit. 

11 ow long he was at his toilet that day, poor boy ! How sedulously, 
■with comb and brush, he sought to smoothe into straight precision 
that luxuriant labyrinth of jetty curls, which had never cost him a 



198 LUCKETiA. 

thought before ! Gil Bias says that the toilet is a pleasure to the 
young, though a labour to the old ; Percival St. John's toilet was no 
pleasure to him that anxious morning. 

At last, he tore himself, dissatif q ed and desperate, from the glass, 
caught his hat and his whip, threw himself on his horse, and rode, at 
first very fast and at last very slowly, to the old, decayed, shahby, 
neglected house, that lay hid, like the poverty of fallen pride, 
amidst the trim villas and smart cottages of fair and flourishing 
Bsompton. 

The same servant who had opened the gate to Ardworth appeared 
to his summons, and, after eyeing him for some moments with a 
listless, stupid stare, said, " You'll be after some mistake ! " and turned 
away. 

" Stop — stop!" cried Percival, trying to intrude himself through 
the gate; but the servant blocked up the entrance sturdily. "It is 
no mistake at all, my good lady. I have come to see Madame Dalibard, 
my — my relation !" 

" Your relation!" and again the woman stared at Percival with a 
look through the dull vacancy of which some distrust was dimly 
perceptible. '' Bide a bit there, and give us your name." 

Percival gave his card to the servant, with his sweetest and most 
persuasive smile. She took it with one hand, and, with the other, 
turned the key in the gate, leaving Percival outside. It was five 
minutes before she returned, and she then, with the same prim, 
smileless expression of countenance, opened the gate, and motioned 
him to follow. 

The kind-hearted boy sighed as he cast a glance at the desolate and 
poverty-stricken appearance of the house, and thought -within himself 
— " Ah, pray Heaven she may be my relation, and then I shall have 
the right to find her, and that sweet girl, a very different home ! " 
The old woman threw open the drawing-room door, and Percival was 
in the presence of his deadliest foe! The arm-chair was turned 
towards the entrance, and from amidst the coverings that hid the 
form, the remarkable countenance of Madame Dalibard emerged, sharp 
and earnest, directly fronting the intruder. 

" So," she said slowly, and, as it were, devouring him with her 
keen, steadfast eyes — " so, you are Percival St. John ! Welcome ! 
I did not know that we should ever meet. I have not sought you— 
you seek me ! Strange— yes, strange— that the young and the rich 
should seek the suffering and the poor ! " 

Surprised and embarrassed by this singular greeting, Percival 
halted abruptly in the middle of the room ; and there was something 
inexpressibly winning in his shy, yet graceful confusion. It seemed, 
with silent eloquence, to apologise and to deprecate. And when, in 
his silvery voice, scarcely yet tuned to the fulness of manhood, he said, 
feelingly, " Porgive me, madam, but my mother is not in England," — 
the excuse evinced such delicacy of idea, so exquisite a sense of high 
breeding, that the calm assurance of worldly ease could not have more 
attested the chivalry of the native gentleman. 

" I have nothing to forgive, Mr. St. John," said Lucretia, with a 
softened manner. "Pardon me rather, that my infirmities do not 



LUCltETIA. 199 

allow me to rise to receive you. This seat,— here, — next to me. You 
have a s-trong likeness to your father." 

Percival received this last remark as a compliment, and bowed. 
Then, as he lifted his ingenuous brow, he took, for the first time, a 
steady view of his new-found relation. The peculiarities of Lucretia's 
countenance in youth had naturally deepened with middle-age. Tho 
contour, always too sharp and pronounced, was now strong and bony 
ns a man's: the line between the eyebrows was hollowed into a 
furrow. The eye retained its old uneasy, sinister, side-long glance ; 
or, at rare moments (as when Percival entered), its searching pene- 
tration, and a.ssured command j but the eyelids themselves, red rnd 
iniecied, as with grief or vigil, gave something haggard and wild, 
whether to glance or gaze. Despite the paralysis 01 the frame, the 
face, though pale and thin, showed no bodily decay. A vigour, sur- 
passing the strength of woman, might still be seen in the play of the 
bold muscles, the firmness of the contracted lips. What physicians 
call " vitality," and trace at once (if experienced) on the physiognomy, 
as the prognostic of long life, undulated restlessly in every aspect of 
the face, every movement of those thin nervous hands, which, con- 
trasting the rest of that motionless form, never seemed to be at rest. 
The teeth were still white and regular, as in youth ; and when they 
shone out in speaking, gave a strange, unnatural freshness to a face 
otherwise so worn. 

As Percival gazed, and, while gazing, saw those wandering eyes 
bent down, and yet felt they watched Trim, a thrill, almost of fear, 
shot through his heart. Nevertheless, so much more impressionable 
was he to charitable and trustful, than to suspicious and timid 
emotions, that, when Madame Dalibard, suddenly looking up, and 
shaking her head gently, said — 

" You see but a sad wreck, young kinsman," all those instincts, 
which nature itself seemed to dictate for self-preservation, vanished 
into heavenly tenderness and pity. 

"Ah!" he said, rising and pressing one of those deadly hands in 
both his own, while tears rose to his eyes. " Ah ! since you call me 
kinsman, 1 have all a kinsman's privileges. You must have the best 
advice — the most skilful surgeons. Oh, you will recover — you must 
not despond." 

Lucretia's lips moved uneasily. This kindness took her by sur- 
prise. She turned desperately away from the human gleam that shot 
across the sevenfold gloom of her soul : " Do not think of me," she 
said, with a forced smile : " it is my peculiarity not to like allusion to 
myself, though this time I provoked it. Speak to me of the old cedar 
trees at Laughton— do they stand still? You are the master of 
La ugh torn now : — it is a noble heritage !" 

Then, St. John, thinking to please her, talked of the old-manor- 
honse, described the improvements made by his father, spoke gaily of 
those which he had himself contemplated ; and as he ran on, Lucretia's 
brow, a moment ruffled, grew smooth and smoother, and the gloom 
settled back upon her soul. 

All at once, she interrupted him. " How did you discover me — 
was it through Mr. Varney P 1 bade him not mention me— yet how 



200 LTJCKEIIA. 

else could you learn ? " As she spoke, there was an anxious trouble in 
her tone, which increased, while she observed that St. John looked 
confused. 

" Why," he began, hesitatingly, and brushing his bat with his hand ; 
"why— perhaps you may have heard from the— that is— I think there 

is a young . Ah, it is you— it is you ! I see you once again ! " 

And springing up, he was at the side of Helen, who at that .instant, 
had entered the room, and now, her eyes downcast, her cheeks 
blushing, her breast gently heaving,— heard, but answered not that 
passionate burst of joy. 

Startled, Madame Dalibard (her hands firmly grasping the sides of 
her chair) contemplated the two. She had heard nothing, guessed 
nothing of their former meeting. All that had passed before between 
them was unknown to her. Yet, there, was evidence unmistakeable, 
conclusive — the son of her despoiler loved the daughter of her rival, 
and— if the virgin heart speaks by the outward sign— those downcast 
eyes,_ those blushing cheeks, that heaving breast, told that he did not 
love in vain ! 

Before her lurid and murderous gaze, as if to defy her, the two 
inheritors of a revenge unglutted by the grave— stood, united myste- 
riously together. Up, from the vast ocean of her hate, rose that poor 
isle of love; there, unconscious of the horror around them— the 
victims found their footing ! _ How beautiful at that hour their youth — 
their very ignorance of their own emotions — their innocent gladness 
—their sweet trouble ! The fell gazer drew a long breath of fiend- 
like complacency and glee, and her hands opened wide, and then 
slowly closed, as if she felt them in her grasp. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE ROSE BENEATH THE TJTAS. 

And from that day, Percival had his privileged entry into Madame 
Dalibard's house. The little narrative of the circumstances con- 
nected with his first meeting with Helen, partly drawn from Percival, 
partly afterwards from Helen (with blushing and faltered excuses 
from the latter, for not having mentioned before an incident that 
might, perhaps needlessly, vex or alarm her aunt in so delicate a state 
of health), was received by Lucretia with rare graciousness. The 
connection, not only between herself and Percival, but between 
Percival and Helen, was allowed and even dwelt upon by Madame 
Dalibard, as a natural reason for permitting the artless intimacy 
which immediately sprang up between these young persons. She per- 
mitted Percival to call daily, to remain for hours, to share in their 
simple meals, to wander alone with Helen in the garden, assist her to 
bind up the ragged flowers, and sit by her in the old ivy-grown arbour, 
when their work was done. She affected to look upon them both 



TAJCKETIA. 201 

as children, and to leave to them that happy familiarity which child- 
hood only sanctions, and compared to which, the affection of maturer 
years seems at once coarse and cold. 

As they grew more familiar, the differences and similarities in their 
characters came out, and nothing more delightful than the harmony 
iuto winch even the contrasts blended, ever invited the guardian angel 
to pause and smile. As flowers in some trained parterre relieve each 
other, now softening, now heightening each several hue, till all unite 
in one concord of interwoven beauty, so these two blooming natures, 
brought together, seemed, where varying still, to melt and fuse their 
affluences into one wealth of innocence and sweetness. Both had a 
native buoyancy and cheerfulness of spirit, a noble trustfulness in 
others, a singular candour, and freshness of mind and feeling. But 
beneath the gaiety of Helen, there was a soft and holy under-stream 
of thoughtful melancholy, a high and religious sentiment, that vibrated 
more exquisitely to the subtle mysteries of creation — the solemn 
unison between the bright world without, and the grave destinies of 
that world within (which is an imperishable soul), than the lighter 
and more vivid joyfulness of Percival had yet conceived. In him, lay 
the germs of the active mortal, who might win distinction in the bold 
career we run upon the surface of the earth. In her, there was that 
liner and more spiritual essence which lifts the poet to the golden 
atmosphere of dreams, and reveals in glimpses to the saint the choral 
Populace of Heaven. We do not say that Helen would ever have 
found the utterance of the poet, that her reveries, undefined and 
unanalysed, could have taken the sharp, clear form of words. For to 
the poet, practically developed and made manifest to the world, many 
other gilts, besides the mere poetic sense, are needed; stern study, 
and logical generalisation of scattered truths, and patient observation 
of the characters of men, and the wisdom that comes from sorrow and 
passion, and a sage's experience of things actual, embracing the dark 
secrets of human infirmity and crime. But, despite all that has been 
said in disparagement or disbelief of " mute inglorious Miltons," we 
maintain that there are natures in which the divinest element of poetry 
exists, the purer and more delicate for escaping from bodily form, and 
evaporating from the coarser vessels into which the poet, so called, 
must pour the ethereal fluid. There is a certain virtue within us, 
comprehending our subtlest and noblest emotions, which is poetry 
while untold, and grows pale and poor in proportion as we strain it 
into poems. Nay, it may be said of this airy property of our inmost 
being, that, more or less, it departs from us, according as we give it 
forth into the world, even, as only by the losi of its particles, the rose 
wastes its perfume on the air. So this more spiritual sensibility 
dwelt in Helen, as the latent mesmerism in water, as the invisible 
fairy in an enchanted ring. It was an essence or divinity, shrined and 
shrouded in herself, which gave her more intimate and vital union 
with all the influences of the universe, a companion to her loneliness, 
an angel hymning low to her own listening soul. This made her 
enjoyment of Nature, in its merest trifles, exquisite and profound; 
this gave to her tenderness of heart all the delicious anil sportive 
variety love borrows from imagination ; this lifted her piety above the 

p 



202 l«;c.j«Tj.a. 

mere forms of conventional religion, and breathed into her prayers 
the ecstacy of the saint. 

But Helen was not the less filled with the sweet humanities of her 
a^e and sex ; her very gravity was tinged with rosy light, as a western 
cloud with the sun. She had sportiveness, and caprice, and even 
whim, as the butterfly, though the emblem of the soul, still flutters 
wantonly over every wild flower, and expands its glowing wings on 
ilia sides of the beaten road. And with a sense of weakness in the 
common world (growing out of her very strength in nobler atmo- 
spheres), sh« leaned the more trustfully on the strong arm of her 
young adorer; not fancying that the difference between them arose 
from superiority in her, — but rather as a bird, once tamed, flies at the ' 
sight of the hawk to the breast of its owner ; so from each airy flight 
into the_ loftier heaven, let but the thought of danger daunt her wing, 
and, as in a more powerful nature, she took refuge on that fostering 
heart. 

The love between these children, for so, if not literally in years, in 
their newness to all that steals the freshness and the dew from 
maturer life, they may be rightly called, was such as befitted those 
whose souls have not forfeited the Eden. It was more like the love of 
fairies than of human beings. They showed it to each other, inno- 
cently; and frankly ; yet of love, as we of the grosser creation call it, 
with its impatient pains, and burning hopes, they never spoke nor 
dreamed. It was an unutterable, ecstatic fondness — a chnging to 
each other — in thought, desire, and heart — a joy more than mortal in 
each other's presence ; yet, in parting, not that idle and empty sorrow 
which unfits the weak for the homelier demands on time and life. 
And this, because of the wondrous trust in themselves, and in the 
future, which made a main part of their credulous, happy natures. 
Neither felt fear nor jealousy— or if jealousy came, it was the pretty, 
childlike jealousies, which have no sting — of the bird, if Helen 
listened to its note too long — of the flower, if Percival left Helen's 
side too quickly, to tie up its drooping petals, or refresh its dusty 
leaves. Close by the stir of the great city, with all its fret and chafe, 
and storm of life — in the desolate garden of that sombre house, and 
under the withering eyes of relentless Crime, revived the Arcady of 
old— the scene vocal to the reeds of idyllist and shepherd : and in the 
midst of the iron Tragedy, harmlessly and unconsciously arose the 
strain of the Pastoral Music. 

It would be a vain effort to describe the state of Lucretia's mind 
while sne watched the progress of the affection she had favoured, and 
gazed on the spectacle of the fearless happiness she had promoted. 
The image of a felicity at once so great and so holy, wore to her 
gloomy sight the aspect of a mocking Fury. _ It rose in contrast to 
her own ghastly and crime-stained life ; it did not upbraid her con- 
science with guilt so loudly as it scoffed at her intellect for folly.. 
These children, playing on the verge of life, how much more of life's 
true secret did they already know, than she, with all her vast native 
powers and wasted realms of blackened and charred experience ! For 
what had she studied, and schemed, and calculated, and toiled, and 
sinned? As a conqueror stricken unto death would render up all the 



regions vanquished by flis sword for one drop of water to his burning 
lira, how gladly would she have given all the knowledge bought with 
blood and fire, to feel one moment as those children felt ! Then, from 
out her silent and grim despair, stood forth, fierce and prominent, the 
great fiend, Revenge. 

By a monomania, not uncommon to those who have made self the 
centre of being, Lucretia referred to her own sullen history of wrong 
and passion, all that bore analogy to it, however distant. She had 
never been enabled, without an intolerable pang of hate and envy, to 
contemplate courtship and love in others. Prom the rudest shape to 
the most refined, that master-passion in the existence, at least of 
woman, — reminding her of her own brief episode of human tenderness 
and devotion, opened every wound, and wrung every fibre of a heart 
that, while crime had indurated it to most emotions, memory still left 
morbidly sensitive to one. But if tortured by the sight of love in 
those who had had no connection with her fate, — who stood apart 
from her lurid orbit, and were gazed upon only afar (as a lost soul, 
from the abyss, sees the gleam of angels' wings within some planet it 
never has explored), how ineffably more fierce and intolerable was the 
wrath that seized her, when, in her haunted imagination, she saw all 
Susan's rapture at the vows of Mainwarirg mantling in Helen's face! 
All that might have disarmed a heart as hard, but less diseased, less 
pre-occupied by revenge, only irritated more the consuming hate of 
that inexorable spirit. Helen's seraphic purity, — her exquisite, over- 
flowing kindness, ever forgetting self, — her airy cheerfulness, — even 
her very moods of melancholy, calm and seemingly causeless as they 
were, perpetually galled and blistered that writhing, preternatural 
susceptibility which is formed by the consciousness of infamy, the 
dreary egotism of one cut off from the charities of the world, — with 
whom all mirth is sardonic convulsion, all sadness, rayless, and unre- 
signed despair. 

Of the two, Percival inspired her with feelings the most akin to 
humanity. For him, despite her bitter memories of his father, she 
felt something of compassion, and shrank from the touch of his frank 
hand in remorse. She had often need to whisper to herself that his 
life was an obstacle to the heritage of the son, of whom, as we have 
seen, she was in search, and whom, indeed, she believed she had 
already found in John Ardworth : that it was not in wrath and in 
vengeance that this victim was to be swept into the grave, but as an 
indispensable sacrifice to a cherished object — a determined policy. 
As, in the studies of her youth, she had adopted the Machiavefism of 
ancient statecraft as a rule admissible in private life, so she seemed 
scarcely to admit as a crime that which was but the removal of a 
barrier between her aim and her end. Before she had become per- 
sonally acquainted with Percival, she had rejected all occasion to 
know him. She had suffered Varney to call upon him as the old 
protege of Sir Miles, and to wind into his intimacy, meaning to leave 
to her accomplice, when the hour should arrive, the dread task of 
destruction. This, not from cowardice, for Gabriel had once rightly 
described her when he said, that " if she lived with shadows she could 
quell them," but simply because, more intellectually unsparing than 

1' 2 



2G4 LUCKETIA.. 

constitutionally cruel (save where the old vindictive memories 
thoroughly unsexed her), this was a victim whose pangs she desired 
not to witness, over whose fate it was no luxury to gloat and revel. 
She wished not to see nor to know him living, only to learn that he 
was no more, and that Heidi alone stood between Laughton and her 
son. Now that he had himself, as if with predestined feet, crossed her 
threshold, — that he, like Helen, had delivered himself into her toils, 
the hideous guilt, before removed from her hands, became haunting, 
fronted her face to face, and filled her with a superstitious awe. 

Meanwhile, her outward manner to both her meditated victims, if 
moody and fitful at times, was not such as would have provoked sus- 
picion even in less credulous hearts. Prom the first entry of Helen 
under her roof, she had been formal and measured hi her welcome, — 
kept her, as it were, aloof, and affected no prodigal superfluity of dis- 
simulation ; but she had never been positively harsh or unkind in word 
or in deed, and had coldly excused herself for the repulsiveness of her 
manner. 

" I am irritable," she said, " from long-suffering ; I am unsocial 
from habitual solitude ; do not expect from me the fondness and 
warmth that should belong to our relationship. Do not harass your- 
self with vain solicitude for one whom all seeming attention but 
reminds more painfully of infirmity, and who, even thus stricken 
down, _ would be independent of all cares not bought and paid for. 
Be satisfied to live here in all reasonable liberty, to foUow your own 
habits and caprices uncontrolled. Regard me but as a piece of neces- 
sary furniture. You can never displease me, but when you notice that 
I live and suffer." 

If Helen wept bitterly at these hard words when first spoken, it was 
not with anger that her loving heart was so thrown back upon her- 
self. On the contrary, she became inspired with a compassion so 
great, that it took the character of reverence. She regarded this very 
coldness as a mournful dignity. She felt grateful that one who could 
thus dispense with, should yet have sought her. She had heard her 
mother say that " she had been under great obligations to Lucretia ; " 
and now, when she was forbidden to repay them, even by a kiss on 
those weary eyelids, a daughter's hand to that sleepless pillow ; when 
she saw that the barrier first imposed was irremovable, — that no time 
diminished the distance her aunt set between them, — that the least 
approach to the tenderness of service beyond the most casual offices, 
really seemed but to fret those excitable nerves, and fever the hand 
that she ventured timorously to clasp ; she retreated into herself with 
a sad amaze that increased her pity, and heightened her respect. To 
her, love seemed so necessary a thing in the helplessness of human 
life, even when blessed with health and youth, that this rejection of 
all love in one so bowed and crippled, struck her imagination as 
something sublime in its dreary graudeur and stoic pride of inde- 
pendence. She regarded it as of old a tender and pious nun would 
have regarded the asceticism of some sanctified recluse — as Teresa 
(had she lived in the same age) might have regarded St. Simon 
Stylites existing aloft from human sympathy on the roofless summit 
of his column of stone: and with this feeling she sought to inspire 



LOC&XMA. 2('5 

Percival. He had the heart to enter into her compassion, out not the 
imagination to sympathise with her reverence. Even the repugnant 
awe that he had first conceived for Madame Daiibard, so bold was lie 
by temperament, he had long since cast off; he recognised only the 
moroseness and petulance of an habitual invalid, and shook playfully 
his glossy curls, when Helen, with her sweet seriousness, insisted oil 
his recognising more. 

To this house few, indeed, were the visitors admitted. The Mivers's, 
whom the benevolent officiousness of Mr. Fielden had originally sent 
thither to see their young kinswoman, now and then came to press 
Helen to join some party to the theatre, or Vauxhall, or a pic-nic in 
Richmond park ; but when they found their overtures, which had at 
first been pobtely accepted by Madame Daiibard, were rejected, they 
gradually ceased their visits, wounded and indignant. 

Certain it was, that Lucretia had, at one time, eagerly caught at 
their well-meant civilities to Helen — now she as abruptly declined 
them. "Why ? It would be hard to plumb into all the black secrets 
of that heart. It would have been but natural to her, who shrank 
from dooming Helen to no worse calamity than a virgin's grave, to 
have designed to throw her in such uncongenial guidance, amidst all 
the manifold temptations of the corrupt city — to have suffered her to 
be seen, and to be ensnared by those gallants ever on the watch for 
defenceless beauty ; and to contrast with their elegance of mien, and 
fatal flatteries — the grossness of the companions selected for her, and 
the unloving discomfort of the home into which she had been thrown. 
But now that St. John had appeared — that Helen's heart and fancy 
were steeled alike against more dangerous temptation, — the object to 
be obtained from the pressing courtesy of Mrs. Mivers existed no 
more. The vengeance flowed into other channels. 

The only other visitors at the house were John Ardvvorth and 
Gabriel Varney. 

Madame Daiibard watched vigilantly the countenance and manner 
of Ardworth, when, after presenting him to Percival, she whispered 
— " I am glad you assurecf me as to your sentiments for Helen. She 
has found there, the lover you wished for her—' gay and handsome as 
herself.'" 

And, in the sudden paleness that overspread Ardworth's face, in 
his comprest lips, and convulsive start, she read with unspeakable 
rage the untold secret of his heart — till the rage gave way to compla- 
cency at the thought that the last insult to her wrongs was spared 
her — that her son (as son she believed he was) could not now, at 
least, be the successful suitor of her loathed sister's loathed child. 
Her discovery, perhaps, confirmed her in her countenance to Percival's 

E regressive wooing, and half reconciled her to the pangs it inflicted on 
erself. 

At the first introduction Ardworth had scarcely glanced at Percival. 
He regarded him but as the sleek flutterer in the sunshine of fortune. 
And for the idle, the gay, the fair, the well-dressed, and wealtLy — the 
sturdy workman of his own rough way, felt something of the unchari- 
table disdain which the laborious have nots too usually entertain for 
the prosperous hcves. But the icoment the unwelcome intelligence 



206 LTCRETIA. 

of Madame Dalibard was conveyed to him, the smooth-laced boy 
swelled into dignity and importance. 

Yet it was not merely as a vival, that that strong manly heart, after 
the first natural agony, regarded Percival. No, he looked upon him 
less with anger than with interest — as the one in whom Helen's 
happiness was henceforth to be invested. And to Madame Dalibard's 
astonishment, for this nature was wholly new to her experience, she 
f»w him, even in that first interview, composing his rough face to 
smiles, smoothing his bluff imperious accents into courtesy, listening 

Eatiently, watching benignly, and at last thrusting his large hand 
•ankly forth — griping Percival' s slender fingers in his own ; and then, 
with an indistinct chuckle, that seemed half laugh and half groan, as 
if he did not dare to trust himself farther, he made his wonted uncere- 
monious nod, and strode hurriedly from the room. 

But he came again, and again, almost daily, for about a fortnight ; 
sometimes, without entering' the house, he would join the young 
people in the garden, assist them with awkward hands in their 
playful work on the garden, or sit with them in the ivied bower ; 
and., warming more and more each time he came, talk at last with the 
cordial frankness of an elder brother. There was no disguise in this 
—he began to love Percival — what would seem more strange to the 
superficial, to admire him. Genius has a quick perception of the 
moral qualities • genius which, differing thus from mere talent, is 
more allied to the heart than to tne head, sympathises genially with 
goodness. Ardworth respected that young, ingenuous, unpolluted 
mind : he himself felt better and purer in its atmosphere. Much of 
the affection he cherished for Helen passed thus beautifully and nobly 
into his sentiments for the one whom Helen not unworthily preferred. 
And they grew so fond of him ! as the young and gentle ever will 
grow fond of genius — however rough — once admitted to its com- 
panionship ! 

Percival, by this time, had recalled to his mind where he had first 
seen that strong-featured, dark-browed countenance, and he gaily 
reminded Ardworth of his discourtesy, on the brow of the hill which 
commanded the view of London. That reminiscence made his new 
friend writhe ; for then, amidst all his ambitious visions of the future, 
he had sfen Helen in the distance — the reward of every labour — the 
fairest star in his horizon. But he strove stoutly against the regret 
of the illusion lost; the vivendi causa were left him still, and for the 
nymph that had glided from his clasp, he clung at least to the laurel 
that was left in her place. In the folds of his robust fortitude, Ard- 
worth thus wrapped his secret. Neither of his young playmates 
suspected it. He woula have disdained himself if he had so poisoned 
their pleasure._ That he suffered when alone, much and bitterly, is 
not to be denied ; but in that masculine and complete being, Love 
took but its legitimate rank, amidst the passions and cares of man. 
It soured no existence — it broke no heart — the wind swept some 
blossoms from the bough, and tossed wildly the agitated branches 
from root to summit, but the trunk stood firm. 

In some of these visits to Madame Dalibard's, Ardworth renewed 
with her the more private conversation which had so unsettled his past 



LUCKETIA. i!07 

convictions as to liis birth, and so disturbed the calm, strong currents 
of his mind. He was chiefly anxious to learn what conjectures 
Madame Dalibard had formed as to his parentage, and what ground 
there was for belief that he was near in blood to herself, or that he 
was born to a station less dependent on continuous exertion ; but oe 
these points the dark sybil preserved an obstinate silence. She was 
Satisfied with the hints she had already thrown out, and absolutely 
refused to say more till better authorised by the inquiries she had set 
on foot. Artfully, she turned from these topics of closer and more 
household interest to those on which she had previously insisted— 
connected with the general knowledge of mankind, and the compli- 
cated science of practical life. To fire his genius, wing his energies, 
inflame his ambition above that slow, laborious drudgery to which he 
had linked the chances of his career, and which her fiery and rapid 
intellect was wholly unable to comprehend — save as a waste of life 
for uncertain and distant objects— became her task. And she saw 
with delight that Ardworth listened to her more assentingly than he 
had done at first. In truth, the pain shut within his heart, the con- 
flict waged keenly between his reason and his passion, unfitted him, 
for the time, for mere mechanical employment, in which his genius 
could afford him no consolation. Now, genius is given to man, not 
only to enlighten others, but to comfort as well as to elevate himself. 
Thus, in all the sorrows of actual existence, the man is doubly inclined 
to turn to his genius for distraction. Harassed in this world of 
action, he knocks at the gate of that world of idea or fancy which he 
is privileged to enter : he escapes from the clay to the spirit. And 
rarely, till some great grief comes, does the man in whom the celes- 
tial fire is lodged know all the gift of which he is possessed. At last, 
Ardworth's visits ceased abruptly. He shut himself up once more in 
his chambers ; but the law books were laid aside. 

Varney, who generally contrived to call when Ardworth was not 
there, seldom interrupted the lovers in their little jparadise of the 
garden; but he took occasion to ripen and cement his intimacy with 
Percival : sometimes walked, or (if St. John had his cabriolet) drove 
home and dined with him, tete-a-tete, in Curzon'-street ; and as he made 
Helen his chief subject of conversation, Percival could not but esteem 
him amongst the most agreeable of men. With Helen, when Percival 
was not there, Varney held some secret conferences — secret even from 
Percival ; two or three times, before the hour in which Percival was 
accustomed to come, they had been out together ; and Helen's face 
looked more cheerful than usual on their return. It was not surpris- 
ing that Gabrial A r arney, so displeasing to a man hike Ardworth, 
should have won little less favour with Helen than with Percival; 
for, to say nothing of an ease and suavity of manner which stole into 
the confidence of those in whom to confide was a natural propensity, 
his various acquisitions and talents, imposing, from the surface over 
which they spread, and the glitter which they made, had an inevitable 
effect upon a mind so susceptible as Helen's to admiration for art and 
respect tor knowledge. But what chiefly conciliated^ her to Varney, 
whom she regarded, moreover, as her aunt's most intimate friend, 
was that she was pirsuaded he was unhappy, and wronged bv 



203 LTJCBETIA. 

the world or fortune. Vamey had a habit of so representing himself 
—of dwelling with a bitter eloquence — which his natural malignity- 
made forcible — on the injustice of the world to superior intellect. He 
was r a great accuser of Pate. It is the illogical weakness of some 
evil natures to lay all their crimes, and the consequences of crime, 
upon Destiny. There was a heat, a vigour, a rush of words, and a 
readiness of strong, if trite, imagery in what Vamey said, that deceived 
the young into the monstrous error that he was an enthusiast — misan- 
thropical, perhaps, but only so from enthusiasm. How could Helen, 
whose slightest thought, when a star broke forth from the cloud, or a 
bird sung suddenly from the copse, had more of wisdom and of poetry 
than all Varney's gaudy and painted seemings ever could even mimie 
— how could she be so deceived ? Yet so it was. Here stood a man 
whose youth she supposed had been devoted to refined and elevating 
pursuits, gifted, neglected, disappointed, solitary, and unhappy. She 
saw little beyond. You had but to touch her pity to win her interest, 
and to excite her trust. Of anything farther, even had Percival never 
existed, she could not have dreamed. It was because a secret and 
undefinable repugnance, in the midst of pity, trust and friendship, put 
Varney altogether out of the light of a possible lover, that all those 
sentiments were so easily kindled. This repugnance arose not from 
the disparity between their years ; it was rather that nameless uncon- 
geniality, which does not forbid friendship, but is irreconcilable with 
love. To do Varney justice, he never offered to reconcile the two. 
Not for love did he secretly confer with Helen — not for love did his 
heart beat against the hand which reposed so carelessly on his mur- 
derous arm. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE BATTLE OF THE SNAKE. 

The progress of affection between natures like those of Percival and 
Helen, favoured by free and constant intercourse, was naturally rapid. 
It was scarcely five weeks from the day he had first seen Helen, and he 
already regarded her as his plighted bride. During the earlier days 
of his courtship, Percival, enamoured and absorbed for the first time 
in his life, did not hasten to make his mother the confidante of his 
happiness. He had written but twice ; and though he said briefly, in 
the second letter, that he had discovered two relations, both inte- 
resting, and one charming, he had deferred naming them, or entering 
into detail. This, not alone from that indescribable coyness which 
all have experienced in addressing even those with whom they are; 
most intimate, in the early, half-unrevealed, and mystic emotions of 
first love ; but because Lady Mary's letters had been so full of her 
sister's declining health, of her own anxieties and fears, that he had 
shrank from giving her a new subject of anxiety ; and a confidence. 



LUCEET7A. 209 

full of hope and joy, seemed to him unfeeling and unseasonable. He 
knew how necessarily uneasy and restless an avowal that his heart 
was seriously engaged to one she had never seen, would make that 
tender mother ; and that his confession would rather add to her cares, 
than produce sympathy with his transports. But now, feeling impa 
tienttor his mother's assent to the formal proposals which had become 
due to Madame Dalibard and Helen, and taking advantage of the 
letter last received from her, which gave more cheering accounts of 
her sister, and expressed curiosity for further explanation as to his 
half disc'osure, he wrote at length, and cleared his breast of all its 
secrets. It was the same day in which he wrote this confession, and 
pleaded his cause, that we accompany him to the house of his sweet 
mistress, and leave him by her side, in the accustomed garden. 
Within, Madame Dalibard, whose chair was set by the window, bent 
over certain letters, which she took, one by one, from her desk, and-. 
read slowly, lifting her eyes from time to time, and glancing towards- 
the j'oung people, as they walked, hand in hand, round the small 
demesnes, now hid by the fading foliage, now emerging into view. 
Those letters were the early love-epistles of William Mainwaring. 
She had not recurred to them for years. Perhaps she now felt that 
food necessary to the sustainment of her fiendish designs. It was a 
strange spectacle, to see this being, so full of vital energy, mobile 
and restless as a serpent; condemned to that_ helpless decrepitude, 
chained to the uneasy seat — not as in the resigned and passive im- 
becility of extreme age, but rather as one whom, in the prime of life,, 
the rack has broken, leaving the limbs inert, the mind active, the' 
form as one dead, the heart with superabundant vigour ;— a cripple's 
impotence, and a Titan's will ! What, in that dreary imprisonment, 
and amidst the silence she habitually preserved, passed through the 
caverns of that breast, one can no more conjecture, than one can count 
the blasts that sweep and rage through the hollows of impenetrable 
rock, or the elements that conflict in the bosom of the volcano, ever- 
lastingly at work. She had read, and replaced the letters, and leaning 
her cheek on her hand, was gazing vacantly on the wall, when Varney 
intruded on that dismal solitude. 

He closed the door after him, with more than usual care ; and,. 
drawing a seat close to Lucretia's, said, " Belle mere, the time has 
arrived for you to act — my part is well-nigh closed." 

"Ay !" said Lucretia, wearily ; " what is the news you bring? " 

"First," replied Varney, and, as he spoke, he shut the window, as- 
if his whisper could possibly be heard without — "first, all this busi- 
ness connected with Helen is at length arranged. You know when, 
agreeably to your permission, I first suggested to her, as it were 
casually, that you were so reduced in fortune, that I trembled to 
regard your future, — that you had years ago sacrificed nearly half 
your pecuniary resources to maintain her parents — she of herself 
reminded me that she was entitled, when of age, to a sum far ex- 
ceeding all her wants, and-; — " 

" That I might be a pensioner on the child of William Mainwaring*: 
and Susan Mivers," interrupted Lucretia. " I know that, and thane* 
her not. Pass on." 



3110 LUCRETIA. 

" And you know too, that in the course of my conversation with the 
girl, I let out also incidentally that, even so, you were dependent on 
the chances of her life ; that if she died (and youth itself is mortal) 
before she was of age, the sum left her by her grandfather would 
revert to her father's family ; and so, by hints, I drew her on to ask 
if there was no mode by which, in case of her death, she might insure 
subsistence to you. So that you see the whole scheme was made at 
her own prompting. I did but, as a man of business, suggest the 
means — an insurance on her life." 

" Varney, these details are hateful. I do not doubt that you have 
4one all to forestal inquiry and elude risk. The girl has insured her 
life to the amount of her fortune ?" 

" To that amount only ! Pooh ! Her death will buy more than 
that ! As no one single office will insure for more than £5,000, and 
as it was easy to persuade her that such offices were liable to failure, 
and that it was usual to insure in several, and for a larger amount 
than the sum desired, I got her to enter herself at three of the nrin- 
cipal offices. The amount paid to us on her death will be fifteen 
thousand pounds. It will be paid (and here I have followed the hest 
legal advice) in trust to me for your benefit. Hence, therefore, even 
if our researches fail us, if no son of yours can be found, with suffi- 
cient evidence to prove, against the keen interests and bought 
advocates of heirs-at-law, the right to Laughton, this girl will repay 
us well, will replace what I have taken, at the risk of my neck, per- 
haps — certainly at the risk of the hulks, from the capital of my uncle's 
legacy — will refund what we have spent on the inquiry — and the 
residue will secure to you an independence, sufficing for your wants 
almost for life, and to me, what will purchase with economy" — and 
Varney smiled — " a year or so of a gentleman's idle pleasures. Are 
you satisfied thus far ?" 

"She will die happy and innocent!" muttered Lucretia, with the 
growl of demoniac disappointment. 

" Will you wait, then, till my forgery is detected, and I have no 
power to buy the silence of the trustees — wait till I am in prison, and 
on a trial for life and death ? Reflect, every day, every hour of delay, 
is fraught with peril. But if my safety is _ nothing compared to the 
refinement of your revenge, will you wait till Helen marries Percival 
St. John. You start ! But can you suppose that this innocent love- 
play will not pass rapidly to its denouement? It is but yesterday 
that Percival confided to me, that he should write this very day to 
his mother, and communicate all his feelings and his topes ; — that he 
waited but her assent, to propose formally for Helen. Now one of 
two things must happen. Either this mother, haughty and vain as lady 
mothers mostly are, may refuse consent to her son's marriage with 
the daughter of a disgraced banker, and the niece of that Lucretia 
Dalibard whom her husband would not admit beneath his roof " 

"Hold, sir!" exclaimed Lucretia, haughtily, and amidst all the 
passions that darkened her countenance and degraded her soul, somte 
i!ash of her ancestral spirit shot across her brow; but it passed 
quickly, and she added, with fierce composure — " You are right ; go 



LULJUSflA. 211 

" Either — and pardcn me for an insult that comes not from me — 
cither tliis will be the case ; Lady Mary St. John will hasten back in 
alarm to London ; she exercises extraordinary control over her son • 
she may withdraw him from us altogether, from me as well as you, 
and the occasion now presented to us may be lost (who knows ?) for 
ever ; or she may be a weak and fond woman, — may be detained in 
Italy by her sister's illness, — may be anxious that the last lineal 
descendant of the St. Johns should marry betimes ; and, moved by 
her darlings prayers, may consent at once to the union. Or a third 
course, which Percival thinks the most probable, and which, though 
most unwelcome to us of all, I had well nigh forgotten, may he 
adopted. She may come to England, and, in order to judge her son's 
choice with her own eyes, may withdraw Helen from your roof to hers. 
At all events, delays are dangerous — dangerous, _ putting aside my 
personal interest, and regarding only your own object — may bring to 
our acts new and searching eyes — may cut us off from the habitual 
presence either of Percival, or Helen, or both : or surround them, at 
the first breath of illness, with prying friends and formidable precau- 
tions. The birds now are in our hands. Why then open the cage and 
bid them fly, in order to spread the net ? This morning all the final 
documents with the Insurance Companies are completed. It remains 
for me but to pay the first quarterly premiums. For that I think I 
am prepared without drawing farther on your hoards or my own scanty 
resources, which Grabman will take care to drain fast enough." 

"And Percival St. John?" said Madame Dalibard. "We want no 
idle sacrifices. If my son be not found, we need not that boy's ghost 
amonsgt those who haunt us." 

" Surely not," said Varney ; and for my part, he may be more useful 
to me alive than dead. There is no insurance on his life, and a rich 
friend (credulous green-horn that he is !) is scarcely of that flock of 
geese which it were wise to slay from the mere hope of a golden egg. 
Percival St. John is your victim, not mine — not till you give the order, 
would I lift a finger to harm him." 

"Yes, let him live, unless my son be found to me," said Madame 
Dalibard, almost exultingly: "let him live to forget yon fair-faced 
fool, leaning now, see you, so delightedly on his arm, and fancying 
eternity in the hollow vows of love ! — let him live to wrong and aban- 
don her by forgetfulness, though even in the grave ; to laugh at his 
boyish dreams — to sully her memory in the arms of harlots ? Oh, if 
the dead can suffer, let him live that she may feel beyond the grave 
his inconstancy and his fall ! Methinks that that thought will comfort 
me, if Vincent be no more, and I stand childless in the world !" 

"It is so settled, then," said Varney, ever ready to clench the busi- 
ness that promised gold, and relieve his apprehensions of the detection 
cf his fraud. " And now to your noiseless hands, as soon as may be, 
I consign the girl : she hfiS lived long enough !" 



213 LTJCKKTIA. 



CHAPTER XI. 



LOVE AND INNOCENCE. 



_ Wiiile this the conference between these execrable and ravening 
birds of night and prey, Helen and her boy-lover were thus conversing 
in the garden, •while the autumn sun — for it was in the second week of 
October — broke pleasantly through the yellowing leaves of the tranquil 
shrubs, and the flowers, which should have died with the gone summer, 
still fresh by their tender care, despite the lateness of the season, 
smiled gratefully as their light footsteps passed. 

"Yes, Helen," said Percival — "yes, you will love my mother, for 
she is one of those people who seem to attract love, as if it were a 
property belonging to them. Even my dog Beau (you know how fond 
Beau is of me !) always nestles at her feet when we are at home. I 
own she has pride, but it is a pride that never offended any one. 
You know there are some flowers that we call proud. The pride of 
the flower is not more harmless than my mother's. But perhaps 
pride is not the right word — it is rather the aversion to anything 
low or mean, the admiration for everything pure and high. Ah, 
how that very pride — if pride it be — will make her love you, my 
Helen!" 

"You need not tell me," said Helen, smiling seriously, "that I shall 
love your mother, — I love her already ; nay, from the first moment you 
said you had a mother, my heart leaped to her. Your mother ! if ever 
you are really jealous, it must be of ner ! but that she should love me 
—that it is what I doubt and fear. Eor if you were my brother, Per- 
cival, I should be so ambitious for you. A nymph must rise from the 
stream, a sylphid from the rose, before I could allow another to steal 
you from my side. And if I think I should feel this only as your sister, 
what can be precious enough to satisfy a mother ? " 

" You, and you only," answered Percival, with his blithsome laugh 
— " you, my sweet Helen, much better than nymph or sylphid, about 
whom, between ourselves, I never cared three straws, even in a poem. 
How pleased you will be with Laughton ! Do you know, I was lying 
awake all last night, to consider what room you would like best for 
your own. And at last 1 have decided : — come, listen ; it opens from 
the music-gallery that overhangs the hall. Erom the window you 
overlook the southern side of the park, and catch a view of the lake 
beyond. There are two niches in the wall — one for your piano, one 
for your favourite books. It is just large enough to hold four persons 
with ease, — our mother and myself, your aunt, whom by that time we 
shall have petted into good-humour ; and if we can coax Ardworth 
there— the best good fellow that ever lived, — I think our party will be 



com 
we hav 



plete. By the way, I am uneasy about Ardworth, it is so long since 
liave seen him; I save called three times — nay, five, — but his odd- 



f 



i.ociiiciiA. 213 

looking clerK always swears be is not at home. Tell me, Helen, now 

ou who know him so well — tell me how I can serve him ? You know, 

am so terribly rich (at least, I shall be in a month or two) ; I can 
never get through my money, unless my friends will help me. And 
is it not shocking that that noble fellow should be so poor, and yet 
suffer me to call him ' friend/ as if in friendship one man should want 
everything, and the other nothing? Still, I don't know how to venture 
to propose : — come, you understand me, Helen ; let us lay our wise 
heads together, and make him well off, in spite of himself." 

It was in this loose boyish talk of Percival's that he had found the 
way not only to Helen's heart, but to her soul. For in this she (grand 
undeveloped poetess) recognised a nobler poetry than we chain to 
rhythm— the poetry of generous deeds. She yearned to kiss the warm 
hand she held, and drew nearer to his side, as she answered, — " And 
sometimes, dear, dear Percival, you wonder why 1 would rather listen. 
to you than to all Mr. Varney's bitter eloquence, or even to my dear 
cousin's aspiring ambition. They talk well, but it is of themselves ; 
while you " 

Percival blushed, and checked her. 

" "Well," she said — " well, to your question. Alas ! you know little 
of my cousin, if you think all our arts could decoy him out of his 
rugged independence, and, much as I love him, I could not wish it. 
But do not fear for him ; he is one of those who are born to succeed, 
and without help." 

" How do you know that, pretty prophetess ? " said Percival, with 
the superior air of manhood. " I have seen more of the world than 
you have, and I cannot see why Ardworth should succeed, as you call 
it ; or, if so, why he should succeed less if he swung his hammock in 
a better berth than that hole in Gray's Inn, and would just let me 
keep him a cab and a groom." 

Had Percival talked of keeping John Ardworth an elephant and a 
palanquin, Helen could not have been more amused. She clapped her 
little hands in a delight that provoked Percival, and laughed out loud. 
Then, seeing her boy-lover's lip pouted petulantly, and his brow was 
overcast, she said, more seriously, — 

"Do you not know what it is to feel convinced of something which 
you cannot explain ? Well, I feel this as to my cousin's fame and 
fortunes. Surely, too, you must feel it, you scarce know why, when 
he speaks of that future, which seems so dim and so far to me, as of 
something that belonged to him." 

" Very true, Helen," said Percival, " he lays it out like the map of 
his estate. One can't laugh when he says so carelessly, ' At such an 
age I shall lead my circuit, — at such an age I shall be rich, — at such 
an age I shall enter parliament, — and beyond that I shall look as yet 
no farther.' _ And, poor fellow, then he will be forty -three ! And in 
the meanwhile to suffer such privations ! " 

" There are no privations to one who lives in the future," said 
Helen, with that noble intuition into lofty natures, which at times 
ftashedfromher childish simplicity, foreshadowing what, if Heaven spare 
her life, her maturer intellect may dcvelope ; " for Ardworth there is no 
such thing as poverty. He is as rich in Ids hopes as we are in " 



SM LUCSETI*, 

She stopped short, blushed, and continued, with downcast looks, " As 
well might you pity me in these walks, so dreary without you. I do 
not live in them — I live in my thoughts of you." 

Her voice trembled with emotion in those last words. She slid 
from Percival's arm, and timidly sat down (and he beside her) on a 
little mound under the single chestnut-tree, that threw its shade over 
the garden. 

Both were silent for some moments, — Percival, with grateful 
ccstacy, — Helen, with one of those sudden fits of mysterious melan- 
choly, to which her nature was so subjected. 

He was the first to speak. "Helen," he said, gravely, "since I 
have known you, I feel as if life were a more solemn thing than I ever 
regarded it before. It seems to me as if a new and more arduous duty 
were added to those for which 1 was prepared— a duty, Helen, to 
become worthy of you ! Will you smile ? No — you will not smile, if 
I say I have had my brief moments of ambition. Sometimes as a boy, 
with Plutarch in my hand, stretched idly under the old cedar -trees 
at Laughton, — sometimes as a sailor, when, becalmed on the Atlantic, 
and my ears freshly filled with tales of Collingwood and Nelson, I stole 
from my comrades, and. bant musingly over the boundless sea. But 
when this ample heritage passed to me — when I had no more my own 
fortunes to make, my own rank to build up, such dreams became less 
and less frequent. Is it not true that wealth makes us contented to be 
obscure ? Yes ; I understand, while I speak, why poverty itself bef riends 3 
not cripples, Ardworth's energies. But since Ihave known you, dearest 
Helen, those dreams return more vividly than ever. He who claims you 
should be — must be — something nobler than the crowd ! Helen ! " 
— and he rose by an irresistable and restless impulse — " I shall 
not be contented till you are as proud of your choice as, I of 
mine ! " 

It seemed, as Percival spoke and looked, as if boyhood were cast 
from him for ever. The unusual weight and gravity of his words, to 
which his tone gave even eloquence, — the steady flash of his dark 
eyes, — his erect, clastic form,— all had the dignity of man. Helen 
gazed on him silently, and with a heart so full, that words would 
not come, and tears overflowed instead. 

That sight sobered him at once, — he knelt down beside her, threw 
nis arms around her — it was his first embrace, — and kissed the tears 
away. 

"How have I distressed you ? — why do you weep ? " 

" Let me weep on, Per«ival, dear Percival ! These tears are like 
prayers, — they speak to Ei-aven — and of you ! " 

A step came noiselessly over the grass, and between the lovers and 
the sunEght stood Gabriel Varney. 



LUCKKTIA, 215 



CHAPTER Xn. 

SUDDEN CELEBRITY AND PATIENT HOPE. 

Percival was unusually gloomy and abstracted in his way to town 
that day, though Vamey was his companion, and in the full play of 
those animal spirits which he owed to liis unrivalled physical organisa- 
tion and the obtuseness of his conscience. Seeing, at length, that his 
gaiety did not communicate itself to Percival, he paused and looked 
at him suspiciously. A falling leaf startles the steed, and a shadow 
the guilty man. 

" You are sad, Percival ? " he said, inquiringly. " What has dis- 
turbed you ? " 

"It is nothing— or, at least, would seem nothing to you," an- 
swered Percival, with an effort to smile, "for I have heard you 
laugh at the doctrine of presentiments. We sailors are more super- 
stitious." 

" What presentiment can you possibly entertain ? " asked Vamey, 
more anxiously than Percival could have anticipated. 

"Presentiments are not so easily denned, Varney. But, in truth, 
poor Helen has infected me. Have you not remarked that, gay as she 
aabitually is, some shadow comes over her so suddenly, that one 
cannot trace the cause ? " 

" My dear Percival," said Varney, after a short pause, " what you 
say does not surprise me. It would be false kindness to conceal from 
you that I have heard Madame Dalibard sav that her mother was, when 
about her age, threatened with consumptive symptoms, — but she lived 
many years afterwards. Nay, nay, rally yourself ; Helen's appearance, 
despite the extreme purity of her complexion, is not that of one 
threatened by the terrible malady of our climate. The young are 
often haunted with the idea of early death. As we grow older, that 
thought is less cherished ; in youth it is a sort of luxury. To this 
mournful idea (which you see you have remarked as well as I) we must 
attribute not only Helen's occasional melancholy, but a generosity of 
forethought which I cannot deny myself the pleasure of communi- 
cating to you, though her delicacy would be shocked at my indiscre- 
tion. You know how helpless her aunt is. Well, Helen, who is 
entitled, when of age, to a moderate competence, has persuaded me 
to insure her life, and accept a trust to hold the moneys (if ever 
unhappily due) for the benefit of my mother-in-law, so that Madame 
Dalibard may not be left destitute, if her niece die before she is 
twenty-one. How like Helen ! — is it not ? " 

Percival was too overcome to answer. 

Varney resumed : — " I entreat you not to mention this to Helen 
it would offend her modesty to have the secret of her good deeds thru; 
betrayed by one to whom alone she confided them. I could not resist 



21 f> LtTCUETIA. 

her entreaties, though, entre nous, it cripples me not a little to advance 
for her the necessary sums for the premiums. _ Apropos, this brings 
me to a point on -which I feel, as the vulgar idiom goes, ' very awk- 
ward,' — as I always do in these confounded money matters. But you 
were good enough to ask me to paint you a couple of pictures for 
Laughton. Now, if you could let me have some portion of the sum, 
whatever it be (for I don't price my paintings to you), it would very 
much oblige me." 

Percival turned away his face as he wrung Varney's hand, and 
muttered, with a choked voice, "Let me have my share in Helen's 
divine forethought. Good heavens ! she, so young, to look thus 
beyond the grave, always for others— for others " 

Callous as the wretch was, Percival's emotion and his proposal 
struck Varney with a sentiment like compunction. He had designed 
to appropriate the lover's gold, as it was now offered; but that 
Percival himself should propose it, blind to the grave, to which that 
gold paved the way, was a horror not counted hi those to which 
his fell cupidity and his goading apprehensions had familiarised his 
conscience. 

" No," he said, with one of those wayward scruples to which the 
blackest criminals are sometimes susceptible — " no. I have promised 
Helen to regard this as a loan to her, which she is to repay me when 
cf age. What you may advance me is for the pictures. I have a 
right to do as I please with what is bought by my own labour. And 
the subjects of the pictures — what shall they be ?" 

" Por one picture try and recall Helen's aspect and attitude when 
vou came to us in the garden, and entitle your subject — 'The 
Foreboding.' " 

" Hem !" said Varney, hesitatingly. " And the other subject ?' 

" Wait for that, till the joy-bells at Laughton have welcomed a 
bride, and then— and then, Varney," added Percival, with something 
of his natural joyous smile, " you must take the expression as you find 
it. Once under my care, and, please Heaven, the one picture shall 
laughingly upbraid the other !" 

As this was said, the cabriolet stopped at Percival's door. _ Varney 
dined with him that day ; and if the conversation flagged, it did not 
revert to the subject which had so darkened the bright spirits of the 
host, and so tried the hypocrisy of the guest. When Varney left, 
which he did as soon as the dinner was concluded, Percival silently 
put a cheque into his hands, to a greater amount than Varney had 
"anticipated even from his generosity. 

" This is for four pictures, not two," he said, shaking his head 
and then, with his characteristic conceit, he added— "WelL somt 
vears hence, the world shall not call them overpaid. Adieu, mj 
Medici ; a dozen such men, and Art would revive in England." 

When he was left alone, Percival sat down ? and, leaning his face on 
both hands, gave way to the gloom which his native manliness, and 
the delicacy that belongs to true affection, had made him struggle not 
to indulge in the presence of another. Never had he so loved Helen 
as in that hour ; never had he so intimately and intensely felt her 
matchless worth. The image of her unselfish, quiet, melancholy 



LUCRK7JA. 217 

consideration for that austere, uncaressing, unsympathising relation, 
nnder whose shade her young heart must have withered, seemed to 
him filled with a celestial pathos. And he almost hated Varney that 
the cynic painter could nave talked of it with that business-like 
phlegm. The evening deepened; the tranquil street grew still ; the 
air seemed close; the solitude oppressed him; he rose abruptly, 
seized his hat, and went forth, slowly, and still with a heavy 
heart. 

As he entered Piccadilly, on the broad step of that house succes- 
sively inhabited by the Duke of Queensbury and Lord Hertford, — on 
the step of that mansion, up which so many footsteps light with 
wanton pleasure have gaily trod, Percival' s eye fell upon a wretched, 
squalid, ragged object, doubled up, as it were, in that last despondency 
which has ceased to beg, that has no care to steal, that has no wish to 
live. Percival halted, and touched the outcast. 

" What is the matter, my poor fellow ? Take care — the policeman 
will not suffer you to rest here. Come, cheer up, I say ! There is 
something to find you a better lodging !" 

The silver fell unheeded on the stones. The thing of rags did not 
even raise its head, but a low broken voice, muttered — 

" It be too late now — let 'em take me to prison— let 'em send me 
'cross the sea to Buttany — let 'em hang me, if they please. I he's 
good for nothin' now — nothin' !" 

Altered as the voice was, it struck Percival as familiar. He looked 
down and caught a view of the drooping face. 

" Up, man, up !" he said, cheerily; "see, Providence sends you an 
old friend in need, to teach you never to despair again." 

The hearty accent, more than the words, touched and aroused the 
poor creature. He rose mechanically, and a sickly, grateful smile 
passed over his wasted features, as he recognised St. John. 

" Come! how is this? I have always understood that to keep a 
crossing was a flourishing trade now-a-days." 

" I 'as no crossin'. I 'as sold her ! " groaned Beck. " I be's good 
for nothin' now, but to cadge about the streets, and steal, and filch, 
and hang like the rest on us ! Thank you, kindly, sir," (and Beck 
pulled his forelock), " but, please your 'onor, I vould rather make an 
ind on it ! " 

" Pooh, pooh ! did'nt I tell you when you wanted a friend to come 
to me? Why did you doubt me, foolish fellow? Pick up those 
shillings — get a bed and a supper. Come and sec me to-morrow at 
nine o'clock; you know where — the same house in Curzou-street: 
you shall tell me then your whole story, and it shall go hard but I'll 
buy you another crossing, or get you something just as good." 

Poor Beck swayed a moment or two on his slender legs, like a 
drunken man, and then suddenly falling on his knees, he kissed the 
hem of his benefactor's garment, and fairly wept. Those tears 
relieved him — they seemed to wash the drought of despair from his 
heart. 

" Hush, hush! or we shall have a crowd round us. You'll not 

forget, my poor friend, No. , Curzon-street — nine to-morrow. 

Make haste, now, and get food and rest— you look, indeed, as if you 



21S L17CRETIA. 

■wanted t'nem. Ah! would to heaven all the poverty in this huge 
city stood here in thy person, and we could aid it as easily as I can 
thee!" 

Percival had moved on as he said those last words, and, looking 
back, he had the satisfaction to see that Beck was slowly crawling 
after him, and had escaped the grim question of a very portly police- 
man, who had no doubt expressed a natural indignation at the 
audacity of so ragged a skeleton not keeping itself respectably at 
home in its churchyard. 

Entering one of the clubs in St. James's-street, Percival found a 
small knot of politicians in eager conversation respecting a new book 
which had been published but a day or two before, but which had 
already seized the public attention with that strong grasp which con- 
stitutes always an era in an author's life, sometimes an epoch in a 
nation's literature. The newspapers were full of extracts from the 
work — the gossips, of conjecture as to^ the authorship._ We need 
scarcely say that a book which makes this kind of sensation must hit 
some popular feeling of the hour, supply some popular want. Ninety- 
nine times out of a hundred, therefore, its character is political : it 
was so in the present instance. It may be remembered that that year 
Parliament sat during great part of the month of October, that it was 
the year in which the Reform Bill was rejected by the House of 
Lords, and that public feeling in our time had never been so keenly 
excited. This work appeared during the short interval between the 
rejection of the Bill and the prorogation of Parliament.* And what 
made it more remarkable was, that while stamped withthe passion of 
the time, there was a weight of calm and stern reasoning, embodied 
in its vigorous periods, which gave to the arguments of the advo- 
cate something of the impartiality of the judge. Unusually abstracted 
and unsocial— for, despite his youth and that peculiar bashfulness 
before noticed, he was generally alive enough to all that passed around 
him — Percival paid little attention to the comments that circulated 
round the easy chairs in his vicinity, till a subordinate in the adminis- 
tration, with whom lie was slightly acquainted, pushed a small volume 
towards him, and said : 

" You have seen this, of course, St. John ? Ten to one yr»i do not 
guess the author. It is certainly not B m, though the Lord Chan- 
cellor has energy enough for anything, U says it has a touch of 

S r." 

" Could M y have written it ? " asked a young member of Par- 
ham ent, timidly. 

" M y ! — very like his matchless style, to be sure ! You can 

have read very little of M y, I should think," said the subordinate, 

with the true sneer of an official and a critic. 

The young member could have slunk into a nutshell. 

Percival, with very languid interest, glanced over the volume. .But 
despite his mood, and his moderate affection for political writings, 
the passage he opened uponstruck and seized him unawares. Though 
the sneer of the official was just, and the style was not comparable to 

* Parliament was prororued October 20th; the bill rejected by the Lords, 
October 8th. 



l.UCRKTIA. 213 

M ys, (whose is ?) still the steady rush of strong wcards, strong 

with strong thoughts— heaped massively together — showed the ease 
of genius and the gravity of thought :— the absence of all effeminate 
glitter— the iron grapple with the pith and substance of the argument 
opposed, seemed familiar to Percival. He thought he heard the deep 
bass of John Ardworth's earnest voice, when some truth roused his 
advocacy, or some falsehood provoked his wrath. He put down the 
book, bewildered. Could it be the obscure, briefless lawyer in Gray's 
Inn (that very morning the object of his young pity), who was thus 
lifted into fame ? He smiled at his own credulity. But he listened 
with more attention to the enthusiastic praises that circled round, 
and the various guesses which accompanied them. Soon, however, 
nis former gloom returned— the Babel began to chafe and weary him. 
He rose and went forth again into the air. He strolled on without 

Sirpose, but mechanically, into the street where he had first seen 
elen. He paused a few moments under the colonnade which faced 
Beck's old deserted crossing. His pause attracted the notice of one 
of the unhsppy beings whom we suffer to pollute our streets and rot in 
our hospitals. She approached and spoke to him — to him whose 
heart was so full of Helen ! He shuddered, and strode on. At 
length, he paused before the twin towers of Westminster Abbey, on 
which the moon rested in solemn splendour ; and in that space, one 
man only shared his solitude. A figure with folded arms leant against 
the iron rails, near the statue of Canning, and his gaze comprehended 
in one view, the walls of the Parliament, in which all passions wage 
their war, and the glorious abbey, which gives a Walhalla to the 
great. The utter stillness of the figure, so in unison with the stillness 
of the scene, had upon Percival more effect than would have been 
produced by the most clamorous crowd. He looked round curiously, 
as he passed, and uttered an exclamation as he recognised John 
Ardworth. 

" You, Percival 1 " said Ardworth — " a strange meeting place a< 
this hour ! What can bring you hither ? " 

" Ouly whim, I fear— and you? " as Percival linked his arm into 
Ardworth's. 

" Twenty years hence I will tell you what brought me hither ! " 
answered Ardworth, moving slowly back towards Whitehall. 

" H we are alive then ! " 

" We live till our destinies below are fulfilled ; till our uses have 
passed from us in this sphere, and rise to benefit another. For the 
soul is as a sun, but with this noble distinction, the sun is confined in 
its career — day after day, it visits the same lands, gilds the same 
planets, or rather, as the astronomers hold, stands the motionless 
centre of moving worlds. But the soul, when it sinks into seeming 
darkness and the deep, rises to new destinies, fresh regions unvisited 
before. What we call Eternity, may be but an endless series of those 
transitions, which men call deaths, abandonments of home after home, 
ever to fairer scenes and loftier heights. Age after age, the spirit, 
that glorious Nomad, may shift its tent, fated not to rest in the dull 
Elysium of the Heathen, out carrying with it evermore its elements, 
— Activity and Desire. Why shoi lathe soul ever repose ? God, its 



S20 LVCRETIA. 

Principle, reposes never. While we speak, new worlds are sparkling 
forth — suns are throwing off their nebulae — nebulae are hardening into 
worlds. The Almighty proves his existence by creating. Think yoa. 
that Plato is at rest, ana Shakspeare only basking on a sun-cloud ? 
Labour is the very essence of spirit as of divinity ; labour is the pur- 
gatory of the erring ; it may become the hell of the wicked, but labour 
is not the less heaven of the good !" 

Ardworth spoke with unusual earnestness and passion; and his 
idea of the future was emblematic of his own active nature : for each 
of us^ is wisely left to shape out, amidst_ the impenetrable mists, his 
own ideal of the Hereafter. The warrior child of the biting north 
placed his Hela amid snows, and his Himmel in the banquets of vic- 
torious war ; the son of the East, parched by relentless summer — his 
hell amidst lire, and his elysium by cooling streams; the weary 
peasant sighs through life for rest, and rest awaits his vision beyond 
the grave ; theworkman of genius — ever ardent, ever young — honours 
toil as the glorious development of being — and springs refreshed over 
the abyss of the grave — to follow, from star to star, the progress that 
seems to him at once the supreme felicity and the necessary law. So 
be it with the fantasy of each ! Wisdom that is infallible, and love 
that never sleeps, watch over the darkness — and bid darkness be, that 
we may dream ! 

" Alas ! " said the young listener—" what reproof do you not 
convey to those, like me, who, devoid of the power which gives 
results to every toil, have little left to them in life, but to idle life 
away. All have not the gift to write, or harangue, or speculate, 
or " 

" Priend," interrupted Ardworth bluntly ; " do not belie yourself. 
There lives not a man on earth — out of a lunatic asylum — who has 
not in him the power to do good. What can writers, haranguers, ov 
speculators do more than that ? Have you ever entered a cottage — 
ever travelled in a coach — ever talked with a peasant in the field, or 
loitered with a mechanic at the loom, and not found that each of those 
men had a talent you had not, knew some things you knew not ? The 
most useless creature that ever yawned at a club, or counted the 
vermin on his rags under the suns of Calabria, has no excuse for want of 
intellect. What men want is, not talent, it is purpose ; — in otherwords, 
not the power to achieve but the will to labour, You, Percival St. 
John— you affect to despond, lest you should not have your uses— you, 
with that fresh warm heart — you, with that pure enthusiasm for what 
is fresh and good — you, who can even admire a thing like Varney, 
because, through the tawdry man, you recognise art and skill, even 
though wasted in spoiling canvas — you, who have only to live as 
you feel, in order to diffuse blessings all around you, — fie, foolish 
boy ! — you will own your error when I tell you why I come from 
my rooms at Gray's Inn to see the walls in which Hampden, a plain 
country squire like you, shook with plain words the tyranny of eight 
hundred years." 

" Ardworth, I will not wait your time to tell me what took you 
yonder. I have penetrated a secret that you, not kindly, kept from 
me. This morning you rose and found yourself famous ; this evening 



ivUCKETlA. 221 

you have come to gaze upon the scene of the career to which that 
fame will more rapidly conduct you " 

" And upon the tomb which the proudest ambition I can form on 
earth must content itself to win ! A poor conclusion, if all ended 
here!" 

" I am right, however," said Pei eival, with boyish pleasure. "It 
is you whose praises have, just filled my ears. You, dear — dear 
Ardworth ! How rejoiced I am ! " 

Ardworth pressed heartily the hand extended to him : " I should 
have trusted you with my secret to-morrow, Percival ; as it is, keep 
it for the present. A craving of my nature has been satisfied, a grief 
has found distraction; as for the rest, any child who throws a stone 
into the water with all his force can make a splash ; but he would be 
a fool indeed, if he supposed that the splash was a sign that he had 
turned a stream." 

Here Ardworth ceased abruptly — and Percival, engrossed by a bright 
idea, which had suddenly occurred to him, exclaimed — 

" Ardworth — your desire, your ambition is to enter parliament : 
there must be a dissolution shortly — the success of your book will 
render you acceptable to many a popular constituency. All you can 
want is a sum for the necessary expenses. Borrow that sum from me 
— repay me when you are in the cabinet, or attorney-general. It shall 
be so ! " 

A look so bright, that even by that dull lamplight, the glow of the 
cheek, the brilliancy of the eye were visible — flashed over Ardworth's 
face. He felt at that moment what ambitious man must feel when 
the object he has seen dimly and afar is placed within his grasp ; 
but Ms reason was proof even against that strong temptation. 

He passed his arm round thelooy's slender waist, and drew him to 
his heart, with grateful affection, as he replied, 

" And what, if now in parliament, giving up my career — with no 
regular means of subsistence— wh at could I be, but a venal adven- 
turer ? Place would become so vitally necessary to me, that I should 
feed but a dangerous war between my conscience and my wants. In 
chasing Fame, the shadow, I should lose the substance, Independence, 
— why, that very thought would paralyse my tongue. No, no — my 
generous friend. As labour is the arch elevator of man, so patience 
is the essence of labour. First let me build the foundation, I may 
then calculate the height of my tower. Pirst let me be independent 
of the great — I will then be the champion of the lowly. Hold ! — 
tempt me no more — do not iure me to the loss of self-esteem ! And 
now, Percival," resumed Ardworth, in the tone of one who wishes to 
plunge into some utterly new current of thought — "let us forget for 
awhile these solemn aspirations, and be frolicsome and human. 
'Nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit.' ' Neque semper arcum tendit 
Apollo.' What say you to a cigar ? " 

Percival stared, lie was not yet familiarised to the eccentric 
whims of his friend ! 

" Hot negus and a cigar ! " repeated Ardworth, while a smile, full ol 
drollery, played round the corners of his lips, and twinkled in his deep 
eet eyes. 



222 LUCRFTU, 

" Are you serious ? " 
_ " Not serious — I liave been serious enough,'" (and Ardwortn 
sighed) "for the last three weeks. Who goes 'to Corinth to be 
sage/ or to the Cider Cellar to be serious ?" 

" I subscribe, then, to the negus and cigar," said Percival, smiling ; 
and he had no cause to repent his compliance, as he accompanied 
Ardworth to one of the resorts favoured by that strange person in his 
rare hours of relaxation. 

For, seated at his favourite table, which happened, luckily, to be 
vacant, with his head thrown carelessly back, and his negus steaming 
before him, John Ardworth continued to pour forth, till the clock 
struck three, jest upon jest — pun upon pun — broad drollery upon 
broad drollery, without nagging, without intermission — so varied, so 
copious, so ready, so irresistible, that Percival was transported out of 
all his melancholy, in enjoying, for the first time in his life, the exube- 
-ant gaiety of a grave mind once set free — all its intellect sparkling 
into wit — all its passion rushing into humour. And this was the man 
he had pitied!— supposed to have no sunny side to his life! How 
much greater had been his compassion and his wonder, if he could 
have known all that had passed, within the last few weeks, through 
that gloomy, yet silent breast, which, by the very breadth of his mirth, 
showed what must be the depth of its sadness! 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE LOSS OF THE CROSSING. 

Despite the lateness of the hour before he got to rest, Percival had 
already breakfasted, when his valet informed him, with raised, super- 
cilious eyebrows, that " an uncommon ragged sort of a person insisted 
that he had been told to call." Though Beck had been at the house 
before, and the valet bad admitted him— so much thinner, so much 
more ragged was he now, that the trim servant — no close observer of 
such folks— did not recognise him. However, at Percival's order, too 
well-bred to show surprise, he ushered Beck up with much civility : 
and St. John was painfully struck with the ravages a few weeks had 
made upon the sweeper's countenance. The lines were so deeply 
ploughed — the dry hair looked so thin, and was -so sown with grey, 
that Beck might have beat all Parren's skill in the part of an old man. 

The poor Sweeper's tale, extricated from its peculiar phraseology, 
was simple enough, and soon told : — He had returned home at night 
to find his hoards stolen, and the Labour of his life overthrown. How 
he passed that night he did not very well remember. We may 
well suppose that the little reason he possessed was well nigh bereft 
from him. No suspicion of the exact thief crossed his perturbed 
mind. Bad as Grabman's character might be, he held a respectable 
position compared trith the other lodgers in the house. Bill, the 



LUCRETTA. 223 

cracksman, naturally, and by vocation, suggested the hand that had 
despoiled him ;— how hope for redress, or extort surrender, from such 
a quarter ? Mechanically, however, when the hour arrived to return 
to his day's task, he stole down the stairs, and lo, at the very door of 
the house, Bill's children were at play, and in the hand of the eldest 
lie recognised what he called his " curril." 

" Your curril ! " interrupted St. John. 

'' fes, curril — vot the little uns bite, afore they gets their 
teethin'." 

St. John smiled, and supposing that Beck had some time or other 
been puerile enough topurcnase such a bauhle, nodded to him to con- 
tinue ; — to seize upon the urclun, and, in spite of kicks, bites, shrieks, 
or scratches, repossess himself of his treasure, was the feat of a 
moment. The brat's clamour drew out the father — and to him Beck 
(pocketing the coral, that its golden bells might not attract the more 
experienced eye, and influence the more formidable greediness, of the 
paternal thief) loudly, and at first fearlessly, appealed. Him he 
charged, and accused, and threatened with all vengeance, human and 
divine. Then changing Ins tone, he implored — he wept — he knelt. 
As soon as the startled cracksman recovered his astonishment at such 
audacity, and comprehended the nature of the charge against himself 
and his family, he felt the more indignant from a strange and un- 
familiar consciousness of innocence. Seizing Beck by the nape of the 
neck, with a dexterous application of hand and foot, he sent him 
spinning into the kennel. 

" Go to Jericho, mud-scraper ! " cried Bill, in a voice of thunder— 
" and if ever thou sayst such a vopper agin — 'sparaging the characters 
of them 'ere motherless babes — I'll seal thee up in a 'tato sack, and 
sell thee for fiv'pence to No. 7, the great body-snatcher. Take care 
how I ever sets eyes agin on thy h-ugly mug ! " 

With that Bill clapped-to the door, and Beck, frightened out of his 
wits, crawled from the kennel, and bruised and smarting, crept to his 
crossing. But he was unable to discharge his duties that day j his 
ill-fed, miserable frame was too weak for the stroke he had received. 
Long before dusk, he sneaked away, and dreading to return to his 
lodging, lest, since nothing now was left worth robbing but his 
carcass, Bill might keep his word and sell that to the body-snatcher, 
he took refuge under the only roof where he felt he could sleep in 
safety. 

And here we must pause to explain. In our first introduction of 
Beck, we contented ourselves with implying to the ingenious and 
practised reader, that his heart might still be large enough to hold 
something besides his crossing. Now, in one of the small alleys that 
have their vent in the great stream of Fleet Street, there dwelt an old 
widow-woman, who eked out her existence by charing — an industrious, 
drudging creature, whose sole occupation, since her husband, the 
iourneyman bricklayer, fell from a scaffold, and, breaking his neck, 
left her happily childless, as well as penniless— had been scrubbing 
stone-floors, and cleaning out dingy houses when about to be let, — 
charing, in a word. And in this vocation had she kept body and 
soul together, till a bad rheumati'sm and old age had put an end to 



224 JCltETIA. 

ber utilities, ami entitled her to the receipt of two shillings weekly 
from parochial munificence. Between this old woman and Beck there 
■was a mysterious tie — so mysterious that he did not well comprehend 
it himself. Sometimes he called her " mammy "—sometimes "the 
h-old crittur." But certain it is, that to her he was indebted for that 
name which he bore, to the puzzlement of St. Giles's. 

Becky Carruthers was the name of the old woman ; but Becky was 
one of those good creatures who are always called by their Christian 
names, and never rise into the importance of the surname, and the 
dignity of "Mistress;" — lopping off the last syllable of the familiar 
appellation, the outcast christened himself " Beck." 

" And," said St. John, who in the course of question and answer 
had got thus far into the marrow of the Sweeper's narrative, " is not 
this good woman really your mother ?" 

"Mother!" echoed Beck, with disdain; "no, I 'as a gritter 
mother nor she. Sint Poll's is my mother. But the h-old crittur 
tuk care on me." 

"I really don't understand you. Saint Paul's is your mother? — 
How ?" 

Beck shook his head mysteriously, and without answering the 
question, resumed the tale, which we must thus paraphrastically 
continue to deliver. 

_ Wlien he was a little more than six years old, Beck began to earn 
his own livelihood, by running errands, holding horses, scraping 
together pence and half-pence. Betimes, his passion for saving began ; 
at first with a good and unselfish motive, that of surprising " mammy," 
at the week's end. But when " mammy," who then gained enough 
for herself, patted his head and called mm good boy, and bade him 
save for his own uses, and told him what a great thing it would 
be if he could lay by a pretty penny against he was a man, he 
turned miser on his own account; and the miserable luxury grew 
upon him. At last, by the permission of the police inspector, 
strengthened by that of the owner of the contiguous house, he made 
his great step in life, and succeeded a deceased negro in the 
dignity and emoluments of the memorable crossing. Prom that 
hour lie felt himself fulfilling his proper destiny; but poor Becky, 
alas, had already fallen into the sere and yellow leaf! with her 
decline, her good qualities were impaired. She took to drinking — 
not to positive intoxication, but to making herself " comfortable ;" 
— and, to satisfy her craving, Beck, waking betimes one morning, 
saw her emptying his pockets. Then he resolved, quietly and with- 
out upbraiding her, to remove to a safer lodging. To save had 
become the imperative necessity of his existence. But to do hu:. 
justice, Beck had a glimmering sense of what was due to the "h-old 
crittur." Every Saturday evening, he called at her house, and 
deposited with her a certain sum, not large even, in proportion to his 
earnings, but which seemed to the poor ignorant miser, who grudged 
every farthing to himself, an enormous deduction from his total, and 
a sum sufficient for every possible want of humankind, even to satiety. 
And now, in returning, despoiled of all, save the few pence he had 
collected that day, it is but fair to him to add that not his leas t bitter pang 



Fe 



LTJCKET1A. 225 

was in the remembrance that this was the only Saturday on which, 
for the first time, the weekly stipend would fail. 

But so ill and so wretched did he look when he reached her little 
room, that " mammy " forgot all thought of herself : and when he had 
toid his tale, so kind was her comforting, so unselfish her sympathy, 
that his heart smote him for his old parsimony, for his hard resentment 
at her single act of peculation ;— had not she the right to all he made P 
But remorse and grief alike soon vanished in the fever that now 
seized him ; for several days he was insensible ; and when he recovered 
sufficiently to be aware of what was around him, he saw the widow 
seated beside him, within four bare walls, — everything, except the 
bed he slept on, had been sold to support him in his illness. As soon 
as he could totter forti, Beck hastened to his crossing— alas, it was 
pre-occupied. His absence had led to ambitious usurpation. A one- 
egged, sturdy sailor had mounted his throne, and wielded his sceptre. 
The decorum of the street forbade altercation to the contending 
parties; but the sailor referred discussion to a meeting at a flash 
house in the Ptookery that evening. There, a jury was appointed, and 
the case opened. By the conventional laws that regulate this useful 
community, Beck was still in his rights ; his reappearance sufficed to 
restore his claims, and an appeal to the policeman would no doubt 
re-establish his authority. But Beck was still so ill and so feeble, 
that he had a melancholy persuasion that he could not. suitably per- 
form the duties of his oflice ; and when the sailor, not a bad fellow on 
the whole, offered to pay down on the nail what really seemed a very 
liberal sum for Beck's peaceful surrender of his rights, the poor 
wretch thought of the bare walls at his " mammy's," of the long, 
dreary interval that must elapse, even if able to work, before the 
furniture pawned could be redeemed by the daily profits of his post, 
and with a groan, he held out his hand, and concluded the bargain. 

Creeping home to his " h-old crittur," he threw the purchase-money 
into her lap ; then, broken-hearted, and in despair, he slunk forth 
again in a sort of vague, dreamy hope, that the law, which abhors 
vagabonds, would seize and finish him. 

lYhen this tale was done, Percival did not neglect the gentle task 
of admonition, which the poor Sweeper's softened heart and dull 
remorse made the easier. He pointed out, in soft tones, how the 
avarice he had indulged had been, perhaps, mercifully chastised ; 
and drew no ineloquent picture of the vicious miseries of the con- 
firmed miser. Beck listened humbly and respectfully, though so little 
did he understand of mercy, and Providence, and vice, that the diviner 
part of the homily was quite lost on him. However, he confessed 

Eenitently that " the mattress had made him vorse nor a beast to the 
-old crittur ;" and that "he was cured of saving to the end of his 
days." 

" And now," said Percival, "as you really seem not strong enough to 
bear this out-of-door work (the winter coming on, too), what say you 
to entering into my service ? I want some help in my stables. The 
work is easy enough ; and you are used to horses, you know, in a 
eort of a way." 
Beck hesitated, and looked a niomert undecided. At last, lie said, 



255 LCC.RK11A. 

'"'Please your 'onour, if I beant strong enough for the crossin', l'aa 
afeard I'm too h-ailiiig to sarve you, And vouldn't I be vorse nor • 
wiper, to take your vages, and not vork for 'em h-as I h-ought ?" 

Pooh, -we'll soon make you strong, my man. Take my advice— 
don't let your head run on the crossing. That kind of industry 
exposes you to bad company and bad thoughts." 

^'That's vot it is, sir," said Beck, assentingly, laying his dexter 
forefinger on his sinister palm. 

"Well ! you are in my service, then. Go downstairs now, and get 
your breakfast-— by -and-by, you shall show me your 'mammy's' 
house, and we'll see what can be done for her." 

Beck pressed his hands to his eyes, trying hard not to cry ; but it 
was too much for him ; and as the valet, who appeared to Perciyal's 
summons, led him down the stairs, his sobs were heard from attic to 
basement. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

NEWS FROM GBABMAN. 

That day, opening thus auspiciously to Beck, was memorable also 
lo other and more prominent persons m this history. 

Early in the forenoon a parcel was brought to Madame Dalibard 
which contained Ardworth's already famous book, a goodly assortment 
of extracts from the newspapers thereon, and the following letter from 
the young author : — 

" You will see, by the accompanying packet, that your counsels 
have had weight with me. I have turned aside in my slow legitimate 
career. I have, as you desired, made ' men talk of me.' What solid 
benefit 1 may reap from this, 1 know not. I shall not openly avow 
the book. Such notoriety, cannot help me at the bar. But liberavi 
animam meam — excuse my pedantry— 1 have let my soul free for a 
moment— I am now catching it back, to put bit and saddle on again. 
I will not tell you how you have disturbed me— how you have stung 
me into tliis premature rush amidst the crowd— how, after robbing me 
of name and father, you have driven me to this experiment with my 
own mind, to see if I was deceived, when I groaned to myself, 'The 
Public shall give you a name, and Fame shall be your mother.' _ 1 am 
satisfied with the experiment. I know better now what is in me : 
and I have regained my peace of mind. If, in the success of tins 
hasty work, there be that which will gratify the interest you so kindly 
take in me, deem that success your own : I owe it to you— to your 
revelations — to your admonitions. I wait patiently your own time for 
further disclosures : till then, the wheel must work on, and the grist 
be ground. Kind and generous friend, till now I would not wound 
jou by returning the sum you sent me — nay, more, I knew 1 should 



Lr^iracn 22? 

please you by devoting part of it to the risk 01 giving this essay to 
the world, and so making its good fortune doubly ycur own work. 
Now, when the publisher smiles, and the shopmen bow, and I am 
acknowledged to have a bank in my brains, — now, you cannot bo 
offended to receive it back. Adieu. When my mind is in train again, 
and I feel my step firm on the old dull road, I will come to see yo^„ 
Till then, yours — by what name ? Open the ' Biographioal Dictionary 
*t hazard, and send me one." 

" Gray's Ian." 

Not at the noble thoughts, and the deep sympathy with mankind, 
that glowed through that work, over which Lucretia now tremulously 
hurried, did she feel delight. All that she recognised, or desired to 
recognise, were those evidences of that kind of intellect which wins 
its way through the world, and which, strong and unmistakeable, 
rose up in every page of that vigorous logic and commanding style. 
The book was soon dropped thus read : the newspaper extracts pleased 
even more. 

" This," she said, audibly, in the freedom of her solitude — "this is 
the son I asked for— a son in whom I can rise— in whom I can 
exchange the sense of crushing infamy for the old delicious ecstacy 
of pride ! For this son can I do too much ! No : in what I may do 
for him, methinks there will be no remorse ! And he calls his success 
mine — mine ! " Her nostrils dilated, and her front rose erect. 

In the midst of this exultation, Vamey found her, and before he 
could communicate the business which had brought him, he had to 
listen, which he did with the secret gnawing envy that every other 
man's success occasioned him, to her haughty seli'-ielicitations. 

He could not resist saying, with a sneer, when she paused, as if to 
ask his sympathy : — 

" All this is very fine, belle mere ; and yet I should hardly have 
thought that coarse-featured, uncouth, limb of the law, who seldom 
moves without upsetting a chair — never laughs but the panes rattle 
in the window — I should hardly have thought him the precise person 
to gratify your pride, or answer the family idealof a gentleman and a 
St. John." 

" Gabriel," said Lucretia, sternly—" you have a biting tongue, and 
it is folly in me to resent those privileges which our fcarlul connection 
gives you. But — this raillery " 

" Come, come, I was wrong— forgive it ! " interrupted Varney, who, 
dreading nothing else, dreaded much the rebuke of his grim step- 
mother. 

" It is forgiven," said Lucretia, coldly, and with a slight wave of 
her hand ; then she added, with composure : — 

" Long since — even while heiress of Langhton — I parted with mere 
pride in the hollow seemings of distinction. Had I not, should 1 have 
stooped to William Mainwaring ? What I then respected, amidst all 
the degradations I have known, I respect still; talent, ambition, 
intellect, and will. Do you think I would exchange these in a son of 
T .nine, for the mere graces which a dancing-master can sell him P Fear 
net. Let us give but wealth to that intellect, and the world will see 



2"28 LUCKE1IA. 

no clumsiness in the movements that march to its high places, and 
hear no discord in the laugh that triumphs over fools ! But you have 
some news to communicate, or some proposal to suggest." 

" I have both," said Varney. " In the first place, I have a letter 
from Grabman ! " 

Lucretia's eyes sparkled, and she snatched eagerly at the letter her 
son-in-law drew forth. 

" Liverpool, October, 1831. 

" Jason, — I think I am on the road to success. _ Having first pos- 
sessed myself of the fact, commemorated in the parish register, of the 
birth and_ baptism of Alfred Braddell' s son, for we must proceed 
regularly in these matters, I next set my wits to work, to trace that 
son's exodus from the paternal mansion. I have hunted up an old 
woman-servant, Jane Prior, who lived with the Braddells. She now 
thrives as a laundress ; she is a rank Puritan, and starches for the 
godly. She was at first very wary and reserved in her communica- 
tions, but by siding with her prejudices and humours, and by the 
intercession of the Rev. Mr. Graves (of her own persuasion), I have 
got her to open her lips. It seems that these Braddells lived very 
unhappily — the husband, a pious dissenter, had married a lady who 
turned out of a very different practice and belief. Jane Prior pitied 
her master, and detested her mistress. Some circumstances in the 
conduct of Mrs. Braddell made the husband, who was then in his last 
illness, resolve, from a point of conscience, to save his child from 
what he deemed the contamination of her precepts and example. 
Mrs. Braddell was absent from Liverpool, on a visit, which was 
thought very unfeeling by the husband's friends ; during this time 
Braddell was visited constantly by a gentleman (Mr. Ardworth), who 
differed from him greatly in some things, and seemed one of the 
carnal, but with whom agreement in politics (for they were both great 
politicians and republicans) seems to have established a link. One 
evening, when Mr. Ardworth was in the house, Jane Prior, who 
was the only maid-servant (for they kept but two, and one had been 
just discharged), had been sent out to the apothecary's. Onher return, 
Jane Prior going into the nursery_ missed the infant ; she thought it 
was with her master ; but coming into his room, Mr. Braddell told her 
to shut the door, informed her that he had intrusted the boy to Mr. 
Ardworth, to be brought up in a righteous and pious manner, and 
implored and commanded her to keep this a secret from his wife, whom 
he was resolved, indeed, if he lived, not to receive back into his house. 
Braddell, however, did not survive more than two days this event. 
On his death, Mrs. Braddell returned; but circumstances connected 
with the symptoms of _ his malady, and a strong impression which 
haunted himself, and with which he had infected Jane Prior, that he 
had been poisoned, led to a posthumous examination of his remains. 
No trace of poison was, however, discovered, and suspicions that had 
been directed against his wife could not be substantiated by law ; 
still, she was regarded in so unfavourable a light by all who had known 
tliem both, she met with such little kindness or sympathy in her 
widowhood, and had been so openly denounced by Jane Prior, that it 



LCCRETIA. 2£9 

is uot to be wondered at that she left the place as soon as possible. 
The house, indeed, was taken from her, for Braddell's affairs were 
found in such confusion, and his embarrassments so great, that every- 
thing was seized and sold off, — nothing left for the widow nor for the 
child (if the last were ever discovered). 

" As may be supposed, Mrs. Braddell was at first very clamorous for 
the lost child ; but Jane Prior kept her promise, and withheld all clue 
to it. And Mrs. Braddell was forced to quit the place, in .ignorance 
what had become of it ; since then no one had heard of her ; mit Jane 
Prior says that she is sure ' she had come to no good.' Now, though 
much of this may be, no doubt, familiar to you, dear Jason, it is right, 
when I put the evidence before you, that you should know and guard 
against what to expect ; and in any trial at law, to prove the identity 
of Vincent Braddell, Jane Prior must be a principal witness, and will 
certainly not spare poor Mrs. Braddell. For the main point, however, 
viz., the suspicion of poisoning her husband, the inquest and verdict 
may set aside all alarm. 

" My next researches have been directed on the track of Walter 
Ardworth, after leaving Liverpool, which (I find by the books at the 
inn where he lodged and was known) he did in debt to the innkeeper, 
the very night he received the charge of the child. Here, as yet, I 
am in fault : but I have ascertained that a woman, one of the sect, of 
the name of Joplin, living in a village fifteen miles from the town, had 
the care of some infant, to replace her own, which she had lost. I am 
going to this village to-morrow. But I cannot expect much in that 
quarter, since it would seem at variance with your moreprobable 
belief that Walter Ardworth took the child at once to Mr. Fielden's. 
However, you see I have already gone very far in the evidence, — the 
birth of the child, — the delivery of the child to Ardworth. I see a 
very pretty case already before us, and I do not now doubt for a 
moment of ultimate success. — Yours, 

"N. Grabman." 

Lucretia read steadily, and with no change of countenance, to the 
last line of the letter. Then, as she put it down on the table before 
her, she repeated, with a tone of deep exultation— " No doubt of 
ultimate success ! " 

" You do not fear to brave all which the spite of this woman, Jane 
Prior, may prompt her to say against you ? " asked Varney. 

Lucretia's brow fell. " It is another torture," she said, " even to 
own my marriage with a low-born hypocrite. But I can endure it for 
the cause," she added, more haughtily. " Nothing can really hurt me 
in these obsolete aspersions, and this vague scandal. The inquest 
acquitted me, and the world will be charitable to the_ mother of him 
who has wealth and rank, and that vigorous genius which, if proved hi 
obscurity, shall command opinion in renown." 

" You are now, then, disposed at once to proceed to action. _ For 
Helen all is prepared, — the insurances settled, — the trust lor which I 
hold them on your behalf is signed and completed. But for Percival 
St. John, I await your directions. Will it be best first to prove your 
son's identity, or when morally satisfied that that proof is forthcoming. 



230 LUCliETIA. 

to remove betimes loth the barriers to bis inheritance. If we tarry 
for the last, the removal of St. John becomes more suspicious than it 
does at a time when you have no visible interest in his death. Besides, 
now we have the occasion, or can make it — can we tell how long it will 
last ? Again, it will seem mor" natural that the lover should break 
his heart in the first shock of " 

" Ay," interrupted Lucretia, " I would have all thought and con- 
templation of crime at an end ; when, clasping my boy to my heart, I can 
say, ' Your mother's inheritance is yours. 5 I would not have a murder 
before my eyes, when they should look only on the fair prospects 
beyond. I would cast back all the hideous images of horror into the 
rear of memory, so that hope may for onee visit me again undisturbed. 
No, Gabriel, were I to speak for ever, you would comprehend not 
what I grasp at in a son ! It is at a future ! Rolling a stone over 
the sepulchre of the past — it is as a resurrection into a fresh world, — 
it is to know again one emotion not impure — one scheme not criminal. 
It is, in a word, to cease to be as myself, to think in another soul, to 
hear my heart beat in another form. All this I covet in a son. And 
when all this should smile before me in his image, shall I be plucked 
back again into my hell, by the consciousness that a new crime is to 
be done ? No ; wade quickly through the passage of blood, that we may 
dry our garments, and breathe the air upon the bank where sun shines 
and flowers bloom ! " 

" So be it, then ! " said Vamey. "Before the week is out, I must 
be under the same roof as St. John. Before the week is out, why not 
all meet in the old halls of Laugh ton ?" 

" Ay, in the halls of Laughton ! on the hearth of our ancestors the 
deeds done for our descendants look less dark ! " 

" And, first, to prepare the way, Helen should sicken in these fogs 
of London, and want change of air." 

" Place me before that desk. I will read William Mainwaring's 
letters again and again, till from every shadow in the past a voice 
comes forth, ' The child of your rival, your betrayer, your undoer, 
stands between the daylight and your son 1 ' " 



CHAPTER XV 

VABJETIES. 

Leaving the guilty pair to concert their schemes, and indulge their 
atrocious hopes, we accompany Percival to the novel occupied by 
Becky Carruthers. 

On following Beck into the room she rented, Percival was greatly 
surprised to find, seated comfortably on the only chair to be seen, no 
less a person than the worthy Mrs. Mivers. This good lady, in her 
spinster days, had earned her own bread by hard work. She had cap- 
tivated Mr. Mivers when but a simple housemaid in the service of 



LUGB.E1IA. TS\ 

one of his relations. And while this humble condition in her earlier 
life may account for much in her language and manners which is now- 
a-days inconsonant with the breeding and education that characterise 
the wives of opulent tradesmen, so perhaps the remembrance of it made 
her unusually susceptible to the duties of charity. For there is no 
class of society more prone to pity and relieve the poor than females 
in domestic sen-ice ; and this virtue Mrs. Mivers had not laid aside, 
as many do, so soon as she was in a condition to practise it with 
effect, Mrs. Mivers blushed scarlet on being detected in her visit of 
kindness, and hastened to excuse herself by the information that she 
belonged to a society of ladies for " the Bettering the Condition of the 
Poor," and that having just been informed of Mrs. Becky's destitute 
state, she had looked in to recommend her — a ventilator ! 

" It's quite shocking to see how little the poor attends to the 
proper wentilating their houses. No wonder there's so much typus 
about ! " said Mrs. Mivers. " And for one-and-sixpence we can intro- 
duce a stream of hair that goes up the chimbly, and carries away all 
that it finds ! " 

" I 'umbly thank you, marm," said the poor bundle of rags that 
went by the name of " Becky," as with some difficulty she contrived 
to stand in the presence of the benevolent visitor ; " but I'm much 
afeard that the hair will make the rheumatiz werry rumpatious ! " 

" On the contrary — on the contrary," said Mrs._ Mivers, tri- 
umphantly; and she proceeded philosophically to explain that all the 
fevers, aches, pains, and physical ills that harass the poor arise from 
the want of an air-trap . in the chimney, and a perforated net-work in 
the window-pane. Becky listened patiently ; for Mrs. Mivers was 
only a philosopher in her talk, and she had proved herself anything 
but a philosopher in her actions, by the spontaneous present of five 
shillings, and the promise of a basket of victuals, and some good 
wine, to keep the cold wind she invited to the apartment out of the 
stomach. 

Percival imitated the silence of Becky, whose spirit was so bowed 
down by an existence of drudgery, that not even the sight of her 
foster-son could draw her attention from the respect due to a 
superior. 

And is this poor cranky-looking cretur your son, Mrs. Becky ? " 
said the visitor, struck at last by the appearance of the ex-Sweeper, as 
he stood at the threshold, hat in hand. 

"No, indeed, marm," answered Becky; "I often says — says I— 
'child you be the son of Sint Poll's.' " 

Beck smiled proudly. 

"It was agin the grit church, marm — but it's a long story. My 
poor good man had not a long been dead — as good a man as h-evei 
lived, marm," and Becky dropped a curtsey ; "he fell off a scaffol, 
and pitched right on bis J ead— or I should not have come on the 
parish, marm — and that's the truth on't ! " 

_ " Very well I shall call and hear all about it — a sad case, I dare say. 
You see, your husband should have subscribed to our Loan Society, 
and then they'd have found him a 'andsome coffin, and given three 
pounds to his widder. But the poor are so benighted in these part* 



222 LUCBETiA. 

I'm sure, sir, I can't guess what brought you here? — but that's no 
business of mine. And how are all at Old Brompton ? " — here Mrs. 
Mivers bridled indignantly. " There was a time when Miss Main- 
waring was very glad to come and chat with Mr. M. and myself ; but 
now ' rum has riz,' as the saying is — not but what I dare say it's not 
her fault, poor thing ! — that stiff aunt of hers — she need not look so 
high — pride and poverty, forsooth ! " 

While delivering these conciliatory sentences, Mrs. Mivers had 
gathered up her gown, and was evidently in the bustle of departure. 
As she now nodded to Becky, Percival stepped up, and, with his irre- 
sistible smile, offered her his arm. Much surprised" and much flattered, 
Mrs. Mivers accepted it. As she did so, he gently detained her, while 
he said to Becky : — 

" My good friend, I have brought you the poor lad, to whom you 
have been a mother, to tell you that good deeds find their reward 
sooner or later. As for him, make yourself easy ; he will inform you 
of the new step he has taken ; and for you, good., kind-hearted crea- 
ture, thank the boy you brought up, if your old age shall be made 
easy and cheerful. Now, Beck, silly lad, go and tell all to your nurse ! 
Take care of this step, Mrs. Mivers." 

As soon as he was in the street, Percival, who, if amused at the 
ventilator, had seen the five shillings gleam on Becky's palm, and felt 
that he had found under the puce-coloured gown a good woman's 
heart to understand him, gave Mrs. Mivers a short sketch of poor 
Beck's history and misfortunes, and so contrived to interest her in 
behalf of the nurse, that she willingly promised to become Percival' s 
almoner, to execute his commission, to improve the interior of Becky's 
abode, and distribute weekly the liberal stipend he proposed to settle 
on the old widow. They had grown, indeed, quite friendly and inti- 
mate by the time he reached the smart plate-glazed mahogany-coloured 
fagade, within which the flourishing business of Mr. Mivers was carried 
on ; and when, knocking at the private door, promptly opened by a 
lemon-coloured page, she invited him upstairs, it so chanced that the 
conversation had slid off to Helen, and Percival was sufficiently in- 
terested to bow assent, and to enter. 

Though all the way up the stairs Mrs. Mivers, turning back at every 
other step, did her best to impress upon her young visitor's mind the 
important fact that they kept their household establishment at their 
"wilier," and that their apartments in "Fleet-street were only a " con- 
wenience," the store set by the worthy housewife upon her goods and 
chattels was sufficiently visible in the drugget that threaded its narrow 
way up the gay Brussels stair-carpet, andin certain layers of paper, 
which protected from the profanation of immediate touch the maho- 
gany hand-rail. And nothing could exceed the fostering care exhi- 
bited in the drawing-room, when the door thrown open admitted a 
view of its damask moreen curtains, pinned back from such imperti- 
nent sunbeams as could force their way through the foggy air of the 
east into the windows, and the ells of yellow muslin that guarded the 
frames, at least, of a collection of coloured prints, and two kit-kat 
portraitures of Mr. Mivers and his lady, from the perambulations of 
the flies. 



Lt'CKETIA. 233 

But FercivaTs view of this interior was somewnat impeded by his 
portly guide, who. uttering a little exclamation of surprise, stood 
motionless on the threshold, as she perceived Mr. Mivers seated by 
the hearth in close conference with a gentleman whom she had never 
seen before. At that hour, it was so rare an event, in the life of Mr. 
Mivers to be found in the drawing-room, and that lie should have an 
acquaintance unknown to his helpmate was a circumstance so much 
rarer still, that Mrs. Mivers may well be forgiven for keeping St. 
John standing at the door till she had recovered her amaze. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Mivers rose in some confusion, and was apparently 
about to introduce his guest, when that gentleman coughed and 
pinched the host's arm significantly. Mr. Mivers coughed also, and 
stammered out — " A gentleman, Mrs. M. — a friend ;— stay with us a 
da v or two. Much honoured — hum!" 

Mrs. Mivers stared and curtseyed, and stared again. But there 
was an open, good-humoured smile in the face of the visitor, as he 
advanced and took her hand, that attracted a heart very easily con- 
ciliated. Seeing that that was no moment for further explanation, 
she plumped herself into a seat, and said — 

" But bless us and save us, I am keeping you standing, Mr. St. 
John ! " 

" St. John !" repeated the visitor, with a vehemence that startled 
Mrs. Mivers. 

" Your name is St. John, sir— related to the St. Johns of Laugh- 
ton!" 

"Yes, indeed," answered Percival, with his shy, arch smile, 
" Laughton at present has no worthier owner than myself." 

The gentleman made two strides to Percival, and shook him heartily 
by the hand. 

" This is pleasant, indeed ! " he exclaimed. " You must excuse my 
freedom ; but I knew well poor old Sir Miles, and my heart warms 
at the sight of his representative." 

Percival glanced at his new acquaintance, and on the whole was 
prepossessed in his favour. He seemed somewhere on the sunnier 
side of fifty, with that superb yellow bronze of complexion which 
betokens long residence under eastern skies. Deep wrinkles near 
the eyes, and a dark circle round them, spoke of cares and fatigue, 
and perhaps dissipalion. But he had evidently a vigour of constitu- 
tion that had borne him passably through all ; his frame was wiry and 
nervous ; his eye bright and full of life ; and there, was that abrupt, 
unsteady, mercurial restlessness in his movements and maimer, which 
usually accompanies the man whose sanguine temperament prompts 
him to concede to the impulse, and who is blessed or cursed with a 
superabundance of energy, according as circumstance may favour or 
judgment correct, that equivocal gift of constitution. 

Percival said something appropriate in reply to so much cordiality 
paid to the account of the Sir Miles whom he had never seen, and 
seated himself— colouring slightly under the influence of the fixed, 
pleased, and earnest look still bent upon him. 

Searching for something else to say, Percival asked Mrs. Mivers if 
the had lately seen John Ardworth. 

.11 



2S4 LTJCRETIA. 

The guest, who had just reseated himself, turned his chair round at 
that question with such vivacity, that Mrs. Mivers beard it crack. 
Her chairs were not meant for such usage. A shade fell over her 
rosy countenance as she replied — 

" No, indeed (please, sir, them chairs is brittle) ! No — he is like 
Madam at Brompton, and seldom condescends to favour us now. It 
was but last Sunday we asked him to dinner. I am sure he need not 
turn up his nose at our roast beef and pudding !" 

Here Mr. Mivers was taken with a violent fit of coughing, which 
drew off his wife's attention. She was afraid he had taken cold. 

The stranger took out a large snuff-box, inhaled a long pinch of 
snuff, and said to St. John : — 

" This Mr. John Ardworth, a pert enough Jackanapes, I suppose — 
a limb of the law, eb ?" 

" Sir," said Percival gravely, " John Ardworth is my particular 
friend. It is clear that you know very little of him." 

" That's true," said the stranger — " 'pon my life, that's very true. 
But I suppose lie's like all lawyers — cunning and tricky, conceited 
and supercilious, full of prejudice and cant, and a red-hot Tory into 
the bargain. I know them, sir — I know them !" 

" Well," answered St. John, half gaily, half angrily, " your general 
experience serves you very little here ; for Ardworth is exactly the 
opposite of all you have described." 

"Even in politics?" 

" Why, I fear he is half a Radical — certainly more than a Whig," 
answered St. John, rather mournfully ; for his own theories were all 
the other way, notwithstanding his unpatriotic forgetfulness of them, 
in his offer to assist Ardworth's entrance into parliament. 

" I am very glad to hear it," cried the stranger, again taking snuff. 
" And this Madame at Brompton — perhaps I know her a little better 
than I do young Mr. Ardworth — Mrs. Brad — I mean Madame Dali- 
bard!" and the stranger glanced at Mr. Mivers, who was slowly 
recovering from some vigorous slaps on the back, administered to him 
by his wife, as a counter-irritant to the cough. " Is it true that she 
has lost the use of her limbs ?" 

Percival shook his head. 

" And takes care of poor Helen Mainwaring, the orphan ? Well, 
well! that looks amiabie enough. I must see — I must see!" 

" Who shall I say inquired after her, when I see Madame Dali- 
bard ? " asked Percival, with some curiosity. 

" Who ? Oh, Mr. Tomkins. She will not recollect him, though,"— 
and the stranger laughed, and Mr. Mivers laughed too ; and Mrs. 
Mivers, who, indeed, always laughed when other people laughed, 
laughed also. So Percival thought he ought to laugh for the sake of 
good company, and all laughed together, as he arose and took leave. 

He had not, however, got far from the house, on his way to his 
cabriolet, which he had left by Temple Bar, when, somewhat to his 
surprise, he found Mr. Tomkins at his elbow. 

I beg your pardon, Mr. St. John, but I have only just returned 
to England, and on such occasions a man is apt to seem curious. 
This young lawyer ; you see the elder Ardworth (a good-for-nothing 



jluciuklia. 235 

scamp !) was a sort of friend of mine — not exactly friend, indeed, 
for, by Jove, I think he was a worse friend to me than he was to any- 
body else — still I had a foolish interest for him, and should be glad to 
hear something more about any one bearing: Ids name, than I can 
coax out of that droll little linen-draper. You arc really intimate 
with young Ardworlh, eh?" 

" Intimate ! poor fellow, lie will not let anyone be that, ! lie works 
too hard to be social. Eut I love him sincerely; and 1 admire him 
beyond measure." 

" The dog has industry, thru — that's good. And docs he make 
debts, like that rascal, Ardwortli senior?" 

" lu-allv. sir, I must say, this tone with, respect to Mr. Ardworth's 
father " 

" What the devil, sir! Do you take the father's part, as well as 
the son's?" 

'' I don't know anything about Mr. Ardworth, senior," said Pcrcival, 
pouting ; '' but I do know that my friend would not allow any one to 
speak ill of his father in his presence ; and I beg you, sir, to consider, 
that, whatever would offend him, must offend me." 

'' Gad's my life! He's the luckiest young rogue to have such a 
friend. Sir, I wish you a very good day." 

Mr. Tomkins took off his hat — bowed — and passing St. Jolm with 
a rapid step, was soon lost to his eye amongst the crowd hurrying 
westward. 

But our business being now rather with him than Percival, we leave 
the latter to mount his cabriolet, and we proceed with Mr. Mivers's 
mercurial guest on his eccentric way through the throng. 

There was an odd mixture of thoughtful abstraction and quick 
observation in the soliloquy in which this gentleman indulged, as ho 
walked briskly on. 

" A pretty young spark, that St. John ! A look of his father, but 
handsomer, and less affected. I like him. Fine shop that — very! 
London wonderfully improved. A hookah, in that window ! — God 
bless me ! — a real hookah ! This is all very good news about that 
poor boy — very. After all, he is not to blame if his mother was such 

a damnable 1 must contrive to see and judge of him myself as 

soon as possible. _ Can't trust to others — too sharp for that ! Wbat 
an ugly dog that is, looking after me ! It is certainly a bailiff. Hang 
it ! — what do I care for bailiffs ? Hem — hem !" And the gentleman 
thrust his hands into his pockets, and laughed, as the jingle of coin 
reached his ear through the din without. Well, I must make haste 
to decide ; for, really there is a very troublesome pieoe of business 
before me. Plague take her ! — what can have become of the woman? 
I shall have to hunt out a sharp lawyer. But John's a lawyer himself. 
No — attorneys, I suppose, are the men. Gad! they were sharp 
enough when they had to hunt me ! What's that great bill on the 
^all about? — 'Down with the Lords.' Pooh, pooh! Master John 
Bull, you love Lords a great deal too much for that. A prettyish 
girl ! English women are very good-looking, certainly. That Lucretia 

— what shall I do, if Ah, time enough to think of her, when. I 

I have got over that mighty stiff if!" 



£36 AUCRETlA. 

In such cogitations and mental remarks our traveller whiled away 
the time, till he found himself in Piccadilly. There, a publisher's 
shop (and lie had that keen eye for shops which betrays the stranger 
in Loudon), with its new publications exposed at the window, attracted 
his notice. Conspicuous amongst the rest was the open title-page of 
a book, at the foot of which was placed a placard, with the enticing 
words — "Fourth Edition: just out," in red capitals. The title 
of the work struck his irritable, curious fancy ; he walked into the 
shop — asked for the volume — and while looking over the contents, 
with muttered ejaculations : " Good ! — capital ! why this reminds one 
of Home Tooke ! What's the price ? very dear — must have it though 
— must. Ha! ha! home-thrust there ! "—while thus turning over 
the leaves, and rending them asunder with his forefinger, regardless 
of the paper-cutter extended to him by the shopman, a gentleman 
pushing by him, asked if the publisher was at home ; and as the shop- 
man, bowing very low, answered, " Yes," the new-comer darted into 
a little recess behind the shop. Mr. Tomkins, who had looked up 
very angrily on being jostled so unceremoniously, started and changed 
colour, when he saw the face of the offender. "Saints in heaven!" 
he murmured almost audibly ; " what a look of that woman ! and yet 
— no — it is gone!" 

" Who is that gentleman?" he asked, abruptly, as he paid for his 
book. 

The shopman smiled, but answered, " I don't know, sir." 

" That's a lie ! — you would never bow so low to a man you did not 
know!" 

The shopman smiled again. " Why, sir, there are many who come 
to this house who don't wish us to know them.'' 

" All, I understand ! you are political publishers — afraid of libels, I 
dare say. Always the same thing in tins cursed country, and then 
they tell us we are 'free !' So I suppose that gentleman has written 
something William Pitt does not like. But, William Pitt ! — ha — 
he's dead ! — very true, so he is ! Sir, this little book seems most 
excellent ; but, in my time, a man would have been sent to Newgate 
for printing it." 

While thus running on, Mr. Tomkins had edged, himself pretty 
close to the recess, within which the last comer had disappeared ; and 
there, seated on a high stool, he contrived to read and to talk at the 
same time, but his eye and nis ear were both turned every instant 
towards the recess. 

The shopman, little suspecting that in so very eccentric, garrulous 
a person, he was permitting a spy to encroach upon the secrets of the 
house, continued to make up sundry parcels ot the new publication 
which had so enchanted his customer, while he expatiated on the 
prodigious sensation the book had created ; and while the customer 
himself had already caught enough of the low conversation within the 
recess to be aware that the author of the book was the very person 
who had so roused his curiosity. 

Not till that gentleman, followed to the door by the polite pub- 
lisher, had quitted the shop, did Mr. Tomkins put his volume in his 
pocket, and, with a familiar nod at the shopman, take himself off. 



LUCRBTIA. 237 

He was scarcely in the street, when he saw Percival St .John leaning 
out of his cabriolet, and conversing with the author he had discovered. 
He halted a moment irresolute, but the young man, in whom our 
reader recognises John Ardworth, declining St. John's invitation to 
iiccompanv him to Brompton, resumed his way through the throng; 
the cabriolet drove on; and Mr. Tomkins, though with a graver mien, 
and a steadier step, continued his desultory rambles. Meanwhile, 
John Ardworth strode gloomily back to his lonely chamber. 

There, throwing himself on the well-worn chair before the crowded 
desk, he buried his face in his hands, and for some minutes he felt all 
that profound despondency, peculiar to those who have won fame, to 
add to the dark volume of experience the conviction of fame's nothing- 
ness. For some minutes, he felt an illiberal and ungrateful envy of 
St. John— so fair,_ so light-hearted, so favoured by fortune, so ricii in 
friends — in a mother's love, and in Helen's half-plighted troth. And 
he, from his very birth, cut off from the social ties of blood— no 
mother's kiss to reward the toils, or gladden the sports, of childhood 
— no father's cheering word up the steep hill of man ! And Helen, 
for whose sake he had so often, when his heart grew weary, nerved 
himself again to labour, saying — " Let me be rich, let me dc great, 
and then I will dare to tell Helen that I love her !" — Helen smiling 
upon another, unconscious of his pangs ! What could fame bestow 
in compensation ? What matter that strangers j>raised, and the 
babble of the world's running stream lingered its brief moment round 
the pebble in its way. In the bitterness of his mood, he was unjust to 
his rival. All that exquisite, but half- concealed treasure of imagina- 
tion and thought, which lay beneath the surface of Helen's childlike 
smile, he believed that he alone— he, soul of power and son of genius, 
was worthy to discover and to prize. In the pride not unfrequent with 
that kinghest of all aristocracies, the Chiefs of Intellect, he forgot the 
grandeur which invests the attributes of the heart — forgot that, in the 
lists of love, the heart is at least the equal of the mind. _ In the 
reaction that follows great excitement, Ardworth had morbidly felt, 
that day, his utter solitude — felt it in the streets through which he 
had passed— in the home tc which he had returned — the burning tears, 
shed for the first time since childhood, forced themselves through his 
clasped fingers. At length, he rose, with a strong effort at self- 
mastery — some contempt of his weakness, and much remorse at his 
ungrateful envy. He gathered together the soiled manuscript and 
dingy proofs 01 his book, and thrust them through the grimy bars of 
Ids grate ; then, opening his desk, he drew out a small packet, with 
tremulous fingers, unfolding paper after paper, and gazed, with eyes 
still moistened, on the relics kept till then, in the devotion of the only 
tmtiment inspired by Eros, that had ever, perhaps, softened his iron 
nature : these were two notes from Helen — some violets she had once 
given him, and a little purse she had knitted for him (with a playful 
prophecy of future fortunes), when he had last left the vicarage. 
Nor blame him, ye who with more habitual romance of temper, and 
richer fertility of imagination, can reconcile the tenderest memories 
with the sternest duties, if he. with all his strength, felt that the 
BKiociations connected with those tokens wo'ild but enervate ''it 



2aS ivczzilA. 

resolves, and embitter his resignation. You can guess not the extent 
of the sacrifice, the bitterness of the pang, when, averting his head, 
he dropped those relics on the hearth. The evidence of the desultory 
ambition, the tokens of the visionary love — the same flame leapt up 
to devour both ! It was as tl e funeral pyre of his youth ! 

" So !" he said to himself, " let all that can divert me from the true 
ends of my life — consume !— ^Labour, take back your son." 

An hour afterwards, and his clerk, returning home, found Ard worth 
employed as calmly as usual on his Law Reports. 



CHAPTER XYI. 

THE INVITATION TO LATJGHTON. 

That day, when he called at Brompton, Percival reported to 
Madame Dalibard his interview with the eccentric Mr. Tomkins. 
Lucretia seemed chafed and disconcerted by the inquiries with which 
that gentleman had honoured her, and as soon as Percival had gone, 
she sent for Varney. He did not come till late — she repeated to him 
what St. John had said of the stranger. Yarney participated in her 
uneasy alarm. The name, indeed, was unknown to them, nor could 
they conjecture the bearer of so ordinary a patronymic ; but there had 
been secrets enow in Lucretia's life, to render her apprehensive of 
encountering those who had known her in earlier years ; and Varney 
feared lest any rumour reported to St. John might create his mistrust, 
or lessen the hold obtained upon a victim heretofore so unsuspicious. 
They both agreed in the expediency of withdrawing themselves and 
St. John, as soon as possible, from London, and frustrating Percival's 
chance of closer intercourse with the stranger, who had evidently 
aroused his curiosity. 

The next day Helen was much indisposed, and the symptoms grew 
so grave towards the evening, that Madame Dalibard expressed 
alarm, and willingly suffered Percival (who had only been permitted 
to see Helen for a few minutes, when her lassitude was so extreme 
tnat she was obliged to retire to her room) to go in search of a physi- 
cian : he returned with one of the most eminent of the faculty. On 

the way to Brompton, in reply to the questions of Dr, , Percival 

spoke of the dejection to which Helen was occasionally subject, and 

this circumstance confirmed Dr. , after he had seen his patient, 

in Iris view of the case. Li addition to some feverish and inflammatory 
symptoms which he trusted his prescriptions would speedily remove, 
he found great nervous debility, and willingly fell in with the casual 
suggestions of Varney, who was present, that a change of air would 
greatly improve Miss Mainwaring's general health, as soon as the 
temporary acute attack had subsided. He did not_ regard the present 
complaint very seriously, and reassured poor Percival by his cheerful 
mien and sanguine predictions. Percival remained at the bouse the 



J.UCKETIA. ?33 

whole day, and bad Uic satisfaction, before lie left, of hearing that, the 
remedies Lad already abated tie fever, and that Helen had fallen into 
a profound sleep. Walking hack to town with Varncy, the last said, 
hesitntinuh — " iou were saying to me the other day, that you feared 
vou should have to go for a few days, both to Vernon Grange and to 
Laujrlitnti, as your sieward wished to point out to you some extensive 
alterations in the management of your woods to commence this 
: "uiiran. As you were so soon coming of age, Lady Mary desired 
thai her directions should yield to your own. Now, since Helen is 
recommended change of air, why not invite Madame Dalibard to visit 
you at one of these places ? 1 would suggest Laughton. My poor 
mother-in-law, 1 know, longs to revisit the scene of her youth, and you 
coidd not compliment or conciliate her more than by such an in- 
vitation." 

" Oh," said rercival, joyfully, " it would realise the fondest dream 
r.f my heart to sec Helen under the old roof-tree of Laughton; but as 
my mother is abroad, and there is therefore no lady to receive 
them, perhaps " 

" Miiy," interrupted Yarney, "Madame B.ilibard herself is almost 
the very person whom les hinistunircs might induce you to select to do 
the honours of your house in Lady Mary's absence : not only as kins- 
woman to yourself, but as the nearest surviving relative of Sir Miles 
— the most immediate descendant of the St. Johns ; her mature 
years and decorum of life, her joint kindred to Helen and yourself, 
surely remove every appearance of impropriety." 

"If she thinks so, certainly— I am no accurate judge of such 
formalities. You could not oblige me more, Varney, than in pre- 
obtaining her consent to the proposal. Helen at Laughton ! — Oh, 
blissful thought!" 

"And in what air would she be so likely to revive ?" said Varney, 
but his voice was thick and husky. 

The ideas thus presented to him, almost banished its anxiety from 
Percival's breast. In a thousand delightful shapes they haunted him 
during the sleepless night. And when, the next morning, he found 
that Helen was surprisingly better, he pressed his invitation upon 
Madame Dalibard, with a warmth that made her cheek yet more pale, 
and the hand, which the boy grasped as he pleaded, as cold as the 
dead. But she briefly consented, and Percival, allowed a brief inter- 
view with Helen, had the rapture to see her smile in a delight as 
childlike as his own at the news he communicated, and listen, with 
swimming eyes, when he dwelt on the walks they shoidd take 
together, amidst haunts to become henceforth dear to her as to him- 
self. 1'airyland dawned before them. 

The visit of the physician justified Percival's heightened spirits. 
All the acutcr symptoms had vanished already. He sanctioned his 
patient's departure from town as soon as Madame Dalibard's conve- 
nience would permit, and recommended only a course of restorative 
medicines to strengthen the nervous system, which was to commence 
with the following morning, and be persisted in for some weeks. He 
dwelt much on the effect to be derived from taking these medicines. 
the first thing in the day, as soon as Helen woke. Varney and 



240 Lt/CRETIA. 

Madame Dalibard exchanged a rapid glance. Charmed with the 
success that in this instance had attended the skill of the grtat physi- 
cian, Percival, in his nsual zealous benevolence, dow eageriy pressed 

upon Madame Dalibard the wisdom of consulting Dr. for hei 

own malady ; and the doctor, putting on his spectacles, and drawing 
his chair nearer to the frowning cripple, began to question her of her 
state ; but Madame Dalibard abruptly and discourteously put a stop 
to all interrogatories — she had already exhausted all remedies art could 
suggest — she had become reconciled to her deplorable infirmity, and 
lost all faith in physicians : — some day or other she might try the 
baths at Egra, but, till then, she must be permitted to suffer 
undisturbed. 

The doctor, by no means wishing to undertake a cape of chronic 
paralysis, rose smilingly, and with a liberal confession that the German 
baths were sometimes extremely efficacious in such complaints, 
pressed Percival's outstretched hand, then slipped his own into his 
pocket, and bowed his way out of the room. 

Relieved from all apprehension, Percival very good-humouredly 
received the hint of Madame Dalibard, that the excitement through 
which she had gone for the last twenty-four hours rendered her unfit 
for his society, and went home to write to Laughton, and prepare 
all thing's for the reception of his guests. Varney accompanied nim. 
Percival found Beck rn the hall, already much altered, and embel- 
lished, by a new suit of livery. The ex-sweeper stared hard at Varney, 
who, without recognising, in so smart a shape, the squalid tatter- 
demalion who had lighted him up the stairs to Mr. Grabman's apart- 
ments, passed him by into Percival's little study, on the ground- 
floor. 

""Well, Beck," said Percival, ever mindful of others, and attri- 
buting his groom's astonished gaze at Varney to his admiration of 
that gentleman's showy exterior — "I shall send you down to the 
country to-morrow with two of the horses — so you. may have 
to-day to yourself, to take leave of your nurse. I flatter myself 
you will find her rooms a little more comfortable than they were 
yesterday." 

Beck heard with a bursting heart ; and his master, giving him a 
cheering tap on the shoulder, left him ro find his way into the streets, 
and to Becky's abode. 

He found, indeed, that the last had already undergone the magic 
transformation which is ever at the command of god-like wealth. 
Mrs. Mivers, who was naturally prompt and active, had had pleasure 
in executing Percival's commission. Early in the morning, floors hart 
been scrubbed— the windows cleaned — the ventilator fixed; — then 
followed porters with chairs and tables, and a wonderful Dutch clock, 
and new Dedding, and a bright piece of carpet ; and then came two 
servants belonging to Mrs. Mivers to arrange the chattels ; and 
finally, when all was nearly completed, the Avater of Mrs. Mivers 
herself, to give the last finish with her own mittened. hands, and in 
her own housewifely apron. 

The good lady was still employed in ranging a set of tea-cups on 
the shelves of the dresser, when Beck entered ; and bis old nurse, m 



LUCRETIA. 241 

the overflow of her gratitude, hobbled up to ner foundling, and threw 
her arms round his neck. 

"That's right!" said Mrs. Mivers, good-humouredly, turning 
round, and wiping the tear from her eye. You ought to make much 
of him, poor lad ; he has turned out a god-send, indeed ; and, upon 
my word, he looks very respectable in his new clothes. But what is 
this — a child's coral ?" as, opening a drawer in the dresser, she dis- 
covered Beck's treasure. " Dear me, it is a very handsome one — why, 
these bells look like gold!" — and suspicion of her protege's honesty 
for a moment contracted her thoughtful brow — "however on earth 
did you come by this, Mrs. Becky ?" 

" Sure and sartin," answered Becky, dropping her mutilated 
curtsey, " I be's glad it be found now, instead of sum days afore, or I 
might have been vicked enough to Jet it go with the rest to the pop- 
shop : and I'm sure the time 's out of mind, ven that 'ere boy was a 
h-urchin, that I've ristcd the timtashung, and said, 'No, Becky 
Carruthers. that maun't go to my h-uncle's !' " 

"And why not, my good woman?" 

" Lor' love you, marm, if that curril could speak, who knows vot 
it might say — eh. lad, who knows ? You sees, marm, my good man 
had not a long been dead — I could not a get no vork, no vays — 
'Becky Carruthers/ says I, 'you must go out in the streets a 
begging!' I niver thought I should a come to that. But my poor 
husband, you sees, marm, fell from a scaffol, — as good a man as 
h-ever " 

" Yes, yes, you told me all that before," said Mrs. Mivers, growing 
impatient, and already diverted from her interest in the coral by a 
new cargo, all bright from the tinman, which, indeed, no less instan- 
taneously, absorbed the admiration both of Beck and his nurse. And 
what with the inspection of these articles, and the comments each 
provoked, the coral rested in peace on the dresser, till Mrs. Mivers, 
when just about to renew her inquiries, was startled by the sound 
of the Dutch clock striking four, a voice which reminded her of 
the lapse of time, and her own dinner-hour. So, with many pro- 
mises to call again, and have a good chat with her humble friend, 
she took her departure, amidst the blessings of Becky, and the less 
noisy, but not less grateful salutations of Beck. 

Very happy was the evening these poor creatures passed together 
over their first cup of tea from the new bright copper kettle, and 
the almost-forgotten luxury of crumpets, in which their altered cir- 
cumstances permitted them, without extravagance, to indulge. In 
the course of conversation, Beck communicated how much he had 
been astonished by recognising the visitor of Grabman, the provoker 
of the irritable grave-stealer, in the familiar companion of his master ; 
and when Becky told him how often, in the domestic experience her 
avocation of charing had accumulated, she had heard of the ruin 
brought on rich young men by gamblers and sharpers, Beck pro- 
mised to himself to keep a sha/p eye on Grabman's showy acquaint- 
ance. " For master is but a babe like," said he, majestically ; " and 
I'd be cnt into mincemeat afore I'd let an 'air on his 'cad come to 
'arm, if so be's h-as ow I could perweut it." 



Z4» LTJCHETIA. 

We need not say that Ms nurse confirmed Mm in these Rood reso- 
rutions. 

" And now," said Beck, when the time came for parting, " you'll 
keep from the gin-shop, old '"oman, and not shame the young 
master?" 

" Sartin sure," answered Becky ; " it is only ven vun is down in 
the vorld that vun goes to the licker-shop. Now, h-indeed,"— -and she 
looked round very proudly — "I 'as a 'spectacle stashion, and I 
vouldn't go for to lower it, and let 'em say that Becky Carruthers 
does not know how to conduct herself. The curril will be safe enuft 
now— but praps you had best take it yourself, lad." 

" Vot should I do vith it ? I've had enuff of the 'sponsibility. Put 
it up in a 'ankerchiif, and praps ven master gets married, and 'as a 
babby vots teethin', he vil say, ' Thank ye, Beck, for your curril.' 
Vould not that make us proud, mammy ?" 

Chuckling heartily at that vision, Beck kissed his nurse, and trying 
hard to keep himself upright, and do credit to the dignity of Ms cloth, 
returned to his new room over the stables.. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THE WAKING OP THE SESFE3T-. 

And how, O Poet of the sad belief, and eloquence, " like ebony at 
once dark and splendid," * how couldst thou, august Lucretius, 
deem it but sweet to behold from the steep the strife of the 
great sea, or, safe from the peril, gaze on the wrath of the battle, 
or, serene in the temples of the wise, look afar on the wanderings 
of human error ? Is it so sweet to survey the ills from whith thou 
art delivered? Shall not the strong law of Sympathy find thee 
out, and thy heart rebuke thy philosophy ? Not sweet, indeed, can 
be man's shelter in self, when he says to the storm, " I have no bark 
on the sea ;" or to the gods of the battle, " I have no son in the 
slaughter;" when he smiles unmoved upon Woe, and murmurs, 
" Weep on, for these eyes know no tears ;" — when unappalled, he 
beholdeth the black deeds of crime, and cries to Ms conscience, 
" Thou art calm :" — Yet solemn is the sight tc him, who lives in all 
life; seeks_ for Nature in the storm, and Proviasnce in the battle; 
loses self in the woe ; probes his heart in the crime ; and owns no 
philosophy that sets Mm free from the fetters of man. Not in vain 
do we scan all the contrasts in the large framework of civilised earth, if 
we uote, " when the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave 
fast together." Range, Art, through all space, clasp together 
extremes, shake idle wealth from its lethargy, and bid States look in 

* It was said of Tcrtujljan, t'aat "Ms style was like ebony, dark and splendid." 



LUURETIA. 213 

hovels, where the teacher is dumb, and Reason unweedcd runs to rot ! 
Bid haughty Intellect pause iu its triumpli, and doubt if intellect alone 
can deliver the soul irom its tempters ! — Only that lives uneomipt, 
•which preserves in all seasons the human affections in which the 
breath of God breathes, and is! Go forth to the world, Art! — 
;. r o forth to the innocent, the guilty ; — the wise, and thedtdl! — go 
forth as the still voice of fate!— speak of the insecurity even or 
Goodness below ! — carry on the rapt vision of suffering Virtue 
through " the doors of the shadows of death!" — show the dim reve- 
lation sv m boiled forth in the Tragedy of old! — how incomplete is 
man's destiny, how undeveloped is the ju> tice divine, if Antigone 
sleep eternally in the ribs of the rock, and tEdipus vanith for ever 
in the Grove of the Tunes! Here, below, "the waters are hid 
with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen!" But; above 
livcth He " who can bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and 
loo?e the bands of Orion." Go with Tate over the bridge, and she 
vanishes in the land beyond the gulf ! Behold where the Eterrnl 
demands Eternity for the progress of His creatures, and the vindica- 
tion of His justice ! 

It was past nudnight, and Lucrctia sat alone in her dreary room ; 
her head quried on her bosom ; her eyes fixed on the ground, her 
hands resting on her knees : — it was an image of inanimate prostra- 
tion and decrepitude that might have moved compassion to its 
depth. The door opened, and Martha entered, to assist Madame 
Daiibard, as usual, to retire to rest. Her mistress slowly raised her 
eyes at the noise of the opening door, and those eyes took their 
searching, penetrating acuteness, as they fixed upon the florid nor 
uncomely countenance of the waiting-woman. 

In her starched cap, her sober-coloured stuff gown — in her prim, 
quiet manner, and a certain sanctified demureness of aspect, there was 
something in the first appearance of this woman, that impressed you 
with the notion of respectability, and inspired confidence in those 
steady good qualities which we seek in a trusty servant. But, more 
closely examined, an habitual observer might have found much to 
qualify, perhaps to disturb, bis first preposessions. The exceeding 
lowness of the forehead, over which that stiff harsh hair was so puri- 
tanically parted — the severe hardness of those thin small lips, so 
pursed up and constrained — even a certain dull cruelty in those light, 
cold blue eyes, might have caused an uneasy sentiment, almost 
approaching to fear. The fat grocer's spoiled child instinctively 
recoiled from her. when she entered the shop to make her household 
purchases ; the old, grey-whiskered terrier dog, at the public house, 
slunk into the tap when she crossed the threshold. 

Madame Daiibard silently suffered herself to be wheeled into the 
adjoining bed-room, and the process of disrobing was nearly completed 
before she said, abruptly — 

" So you attended Mr. Varney's uncle in his last illness. Did ho 
suffer much?" 

" He was a poor creature at best," answered Martha ; " but he 
gave me a deal of trouble afore he went. He was a scranny corpse 
wLen I strccked him out." 



244 



LUCRETIA. 



Madame Dalibard shrank from the hands at that moment employed 
upon herself, and said — 

" It was not, then, the first corpse you have laid out for the 
grave?" 

" Not by many." 

" And did any of those you so prepared, die of the same com- 
plaint?" 

" I can't say, I'm sure," returned Martha. " I never inquires how 
folks die ; my bizness was to nurse 'em till all was over, and then to 
sit up. As they say in my country—' Riving Pike wears a hood, when 
the weather bodes ill' "* 

"And when you sat up with Mr. Varney's uncle, did you feel 
no fear in the dead of the night? — that corpse before you — no 
fear?" 

" Young Mr. Varney said I should come to no harm. Oh, he's a 
clever man. _ What should I fear, ma'am?" answered Martha, with a 
horrid simplicity. 

" You have belonged to a very religious sect, I thh_'k I have heard 
you say— a sect not unfamiliar to me— a sect to which great crime is 
very rarely known?" 

" Yes, ma'am, some of 'em be tame enough, %t others be weelt 
deep!" 

" You do not believe what they taught you ?" 

" I did, when I was young and silly." 

" And what disturbed your belief?" 

" Ma'am, the man what taught me, and my mother afore me, was 
the first I ever kep company with," answered Martha, without a 
change in her florid hue, which seemed fixed in her cheek, as the red 
in an autumn leaf. " After he had ruined me, as the girls say, he told 
me as how it was all sham ! " 

"You loved him, then?" 

" The man was well enough, ma'am, and he behaved handsome, and 
got me a husband. I've known better days." 

" You sleep well at night ?" 

" Yes, ma'am, thank you, I loves my bed." 

" I have done with you," said Madame Dalibard, stifling a groan, 
as now, placed in her bed, she turned to the wall. Martha extin- 
guished the candle, leaving it on the table by the bed, with a book 
and a box of matches, for Madame Dalibard was a bad sleeper, and 
often read in the night. She then drew the curtains, and went 
her way. 

It might be an hour after Martha had retired to rest, that a hand 
was stretched from the bed, that the candle was lighted, and Lucretia 
Dalibard rose ; with a sudden movement she threw aside the coverings, 
and stood in her long night-gear on the floor. Yes, the helpless, 
paralysed cripple rose — was on her feet — tall, elastic, erect ! It was 
as a resuscitation from the grave. Never was change more startling 

* " If Kivinsj Pike do wear a hood, 

The day, be sure, wiU ne'er be good." 

A Lancashire Disticb. 
+ Weel,— whirlpool. 



1UCKETIA. 245 

than that simple action effected — not in the form alone, but thewholo 
character of the face. The solitary light streamed upward on a 
countenance, on every line of which spoke sinister power and strong 
resolve. If you had ever seen her before, in her false, crippled state, 
prostrate and helpless, and could have seen her then — those eyes, if 
haggard still, now full of life and vigour— that frame, if spare, towering 
aloft in commanding stature, perfect in its proportions as a Grecian 
image of Nemesis— your amaze would have merged into terror, so 
preternatural did the transformation appear!— so did aspect and 
bearing contradict the very character of her sex ; uniting the twi\ 
elements, most formidable iu man or in fiend — wickedness and 
power ! 

She stood a moment motionless, breathing loud, as if it were a joy 
to breathe free from restraint, and then, lifting the light, and gliding 
to the adjoining room, she unlocked a bureau in the comer, and bent 
over a small casket, which she opened with a secret spring. 

Reader, cast back your eye to that passage in this history, when. 
Lucretia Clavcring took down the volume from the niche m the 
tapestried chamber at Laughton, and numbered, in thought, the hours 
left to her uncle's life. Look back on the ungrateful thought— behold, 
how it has swelled and ripened into the guilty deed ! There, in that 
box, Death guards his treasure-crypt. There, all the science of Hades 
numbers its murderous inventions. As she searched for the ingre- 
dients her design had pre-selected, something heavier than those small 
packets she deranged, fell to the bottom ot the box with alow and 
hollow sound. She started at the noise, and then smiled, in scorn of 
her momentary fear, as she took up the ring that had occasioned the 
sound — a ring plain and solid, like those used as signets in the Middle 
Ages, with a large dull opal in the centre. What secret could that 
bauble have in common with its ghastly companions in Death's crypt ? 
This had been found amongst Olivier's papers ; a note in that precious 
manuscript, which had given to the hands of his successors the keys 
of the grave, had discovered the mystery of its uses. By the pressure 
of the hand, at the touch of a concealed spring, a barbed point 
flew forth, steeped in venom, more deadly than the Indian extracts 
from the bag of the cobracapella,— a venom to which no antidote 
is known, which no test can detect. It corrupts the whole mass 
of the blood— it mounts in frenzy and fire to the brain — it rends 
the soul from the body in spasm and convulsion. But examine 
the dead, and how divine the effect of the cause?— how go back 
to the records of the Borgias, and amidst all the scepticism of times 
in which, happilv, such arts are unknown, unsuspected, learn from 
flie hero of Machiavel how a clasp of the hand can get rid of a foe ? 
EtisiiT and more natural to point to the living puncture in the skin, 
and the swollen flesh round it, and dilate on the danger a rusty nail — 
nay, a pin, can engender — when the humours are peccant, and the 
blood is impure ! The fabrication of that bauble, the discovery of 
Borgia's device, was the masterpiece in the science of Dalibard ; a 
curious and philosophical triumph of research, hitherto unused by its 
inventor ana his heirs ; for that casket is rich in the choice of more 
Rentlc materials ; but the use yet may come. As she gazed on tha 



246 1TJCKE1IA. 

rin?, there was a complacent and proud expression on Lucrctia'j 
face. 

"Dumb token of Caesar Borgia!" she murmured — "him of the 
wisest head and the boldest hand that ever grasped at empire ; — whom 
Machiavel, the virtuous, rightly praised as the model of accomplished 
ambition ! Why should I falter in the paths which he trod with his 
royal step ? only because my goal is not a throne ? Every circle is as 
complete m itself, whether rounding a globule or a star. Why groan 
in the belief that the mind defiles itsell by the darkness through which 
it glides on its object, or the mire through which it ascends to the 
hill ? Murderer as he was, poisoner, and fratricide — did blood clog 
his intellect ? or crime impoverish the luxury of his genius ? Was 
his verse less melodious,* or his love of art less intense, or his elo- 
quence less persuasive, because he sought to remove every barrier, 
revenge every wrong, crush every foe ? " 

In the wondrous corruption to which her mind had descended, thus 
murmured Lucretia. Intellect had been so long made her sole god, 
that the very monster of history was lifted to her reverence by his 
ruthless intellect alone ; lifted, m that mood of feverish excitement, 
- when conscience, often less silenced, lay crushed under the load of the 
deed to come, into an example and a guide. 

Though, at times, when looking back, oppressed by the blackest 
despair, no remorse of the past ever weakened those nerves, when the 
Hour called up its demon, and the Will ruled the rest of the human 
being as a machine. 

She replaced the ring — she reclosed the casket, and relocked its 
depository ; then passed again into the adjoining chamber. 

A few minutes afterwards, and the dim light that stole from the 
heavens (in which the moon was partially overcast), through the case- 
ment on the staircase, rested on a shapeless figure, robed in black 
fro'm bead to foot — a figure so obscure and indefinable in outline, so 
suited to the gloom in its hue, so stealthy and rapid in its movements, 
that, had you started from sleep, and seen it on your floor, you would, 
perforce, have deemed that your fancy had befooled you ! 

Thus darkly, through -' r\ darkness, went the Poisoner to her 
prey. 

* It is well known that Ciesar Borgia was both a munificent patron and an 
exquUite appreciate.!' of art — well known also arc his powers of persuasion; but 
the general reader may not perhaps be acquainted with the fact, that this terrible 
C7i_:i:'nal was also a poet. 



lu< aEivA. 247 



CHATTER XVIII. 

RETROSPECT. 



We have now arrived at that stage in tliis history when it is neces- 
sary to look back on the interval in Lucretia's life— between the 
death of Dalibard, and her re-introduction, in the second portion of 
our tale. 

One day, without previous notice or warning, Lucretia arrived at 
"William Mainwaring's house ; she was in the deep weeds of widow- 
hood, and that garb of mourning sulliced to add Susan's tenderest 
commiseration to the warmth of her affectionate welcome. Lucretia 
appeared to have forgiven the past, and to have conquered its more 
painful recollections ; she was gentle to Susan, though she rather 
suffered than ret urned her caresses ; she was open and frank to 
William. Both felt inexpressibly grateful for her visit — the forgive- 
ness it betokened, and the confidence it implied. At this time, no 
condition could be more promising and prosperous than that of the 
vouug banker. From the first, the most active partner in the bank, 
lie had now virtually almost monopolised the business. The senior 
partner was old and infirm ; the second had a bucolic turn, and was 
much taken up by the care of a large farm he had recently purchased ; 
so that Mainwaring, more and more trusted and honoured, became 
the sole managing administrator of the firm. Business throve in his 
able hands ; and with patient and steady perseverance there was little 
doubt but what, before middle age was attained, his competence 
would have swelled into a fortune sufficient to justify him in realising 
the secret dream of his heart — the parliamentary representation of 
the town in which he had already secured the affection and esteem of 
the inhabitants. 

It was not long before Lucretia detected the ambition William's 
industry but partially concealed; it was not long before, with the 
ascendancy natural to her will and her talents, she began to exercise 
considerable, though unconscious, influence over a man in whom a 
thousand _ good qualities, and some great talents, were unhappily 
accompanied by infirm purpose and weak resolutions. The ordinary 
conversation of Lucretia unsettled Ins mind and inflamed his vanity — 
a conversation able, aspiring, full both of knowledge drawn from 
books, and of that experience of public men, which ner residence in 
Paris (whereon, with its new and greater Charlemagne, the eyes of 
the world were turned) had added to her acquisitions in the lore of 
human life. Nothing more disturbs a mind bike William Main- 
waring's than that species of eloquence which rebukes its patience in 
the present, by inflaming all its hopes in the future. Lucretia haa 
none of tiie charming babble of women— none of that tender interest 
in household details, in the minutiae of domestic life, which relaxes 



£43 MJCltETiA. 

the intellect whde softening the heart. Hard and vigorous, her sen. 
tences came forth in eternal appeal to the reason, or address to the 
sterner passions in which love has no share. Beside this strong 
thinker, poor Susan's sweet talk seemed frivolous and inane. Her 
soft hold upon Mainwaring loosened. He ceased to consult her upon 
business — he began to repine that the partner of bis lot could have 
little sympathy with bis dreams— more often and more bitterly now 
did his discontented glance, in his way homeward, rove to the roof- 
tops of the rural member for the town ; more eagerly did he read the 
parliamentary debates— more heavily did he sigh at the thought of 
eloquence denied a vent, and ambition delayed in its career. 

When arrived at this state of mind, Lucretia's conversation took a 
more worldly, a more practical turn. Her knowledge of the specula- 
t ors of Paris instructed her pictures of bold ingenuity creating sudden 
wealth ; she spoke of fortunes made in a day — of parvenus bursting 
into millionnaires — of wealth as the necessary instrument of ambition, 
as the arch ruler of the civilised world. Never once, be it observed, 
in these temptations, did Lucretia address herself to the heart — the 
ordinary channels of vulgar seduction were disdained by her; she 
would not have stooped so low as Mainwaring's love, could she have 
commanded or allured it ; she was willing to leave to Susan the hus- 
band reft from her own passionate youth, but leave him with the 
brand on his brow and the worm at his heart — a scoff and a wreck. 

At this time, there was in that market-town one of those adven- 
turous speculative men, who are the more dangerous impostors, 
because imposed upon by their own sanguine chimeras, who have a 
plausibility in their calculations, an earnestness in their arguments, 
which account for the dupes they daily make in our most sober and 
wary of civilised communities. Unscrupulous in their means, yet 
really honest in the belief that their objects can be attained, they are 
at once the rogues and fanatics of Mammon ! This person was held 
to have been fortunate in some adroit speculations in the com trade, 
and he was brought too frequently into business with Mainwaring not 
to be a frequent visitor at the house. In him, Lucretia saw the very 
instrument of her design, she led him on to talk of business as a game 
— of money as a realiser of cent, per cent. — she drew him into details 
— she praised him, she admired. In his presence she seemed only to 
hear him — in his absence, musingly, she started from silence to exclaim 
on the acuteness of his genius and the accuracy of his figures. Soon 
the tempter at Mainwaring's heart gave signification to these praises 
— soon this adventurer became his most mtimate friend. Scarcely 
knowing why, never ascribing the change to her sister, poor Susan 
wept, amazed at Mainwaring's transformation — no care now for the 
new books from London, or the roses in the garden ! — the music on 
the instrument was miheeded ! Books, roses, music ! — what are those 
trifles to a man thinking upon cent, per cent. ? Mainwaring's very 
countenance altered— it lost its frank, affectionate beauty ;— sullen, 
abstracted, morose — it showed that some great care was at the core. 
Then Lucretia herself began grievingly to notice the change to Susan 
—gradually she altered her tone with tgard to the speculator, and 
touted vague fears, and urged & remonstrance and warning. 



LUCKETIA. 249 

As sue anticipated, 'warning and remonstrance came in vain to the 
man, who comparing Lucretia's mental power to Susan's, had learned 
to despise the unlearned timid sense of the last. 

It is unnecessary to trace this change in Mainwaring step by step, 
or to measure the time which sufficed to dazzle his reason and blind 
his honour. Li the midst of schemes and hopes, which the lust of 
gold now pervaded, came a thunderbolt. An anonymous letter to the 
head partner of the bank provoked suspicions that led to minute 
examination of the accounts. It seemed that sums had been irregu- 
larly advanced (upon bills drawn upon men of straw) to the speculator 
by Mainwaring ; and the destination of these sums could be traced to 
gambling operations in trade, in which Mainwaring had a private 
interest and partnership. So great, as we have said, had been the 
confidence placed in William's abilities and honour, that the facilities 
afforded him, in the disposal of the joint stock, far exceeded those 
usually granted to the partner of a firm, and the breach of trust 
appeared the more flagrant from the extent of the confidence mis- 
placed. Meanwhile, William Mainwaring, though as yet unconscious 
of the proceedings of his partners, was gnawed by anxiety and re- 
morse, not unmixed with hope. He depended upon the result of a 
bold speculation in the purchase of shares in a Canal Company, a bill 
for which was then before Parliament, with (as he was led to believe) 
a certainty of success. The sums he had, on his own responsibility, 
abstracted from the joint account were devoted to this adventure. 
But, to do him justice, he never dreamed of appropriating the profits 
anticipated, to himself. Though knowing that the bills, on which the 
monies had been advanced, were merely nominal deposits, he had 
confidently calculated on the certainty of success for the speculations, 
to which the proceeds so obtained^ were devoted, and he looked for- 
ward to the moment when he might avow what he had done, and 
i'ustify it by doubling the capital withdrawn. But to his inconceivable 
lorror, the bill of the Canal Company was rejected in the Lords — the 
shares bought at a premium went down to zero ; and, to add to his 
perplexity, the speculator abruptly disappeared from the town. In 
tliis crisis, he was summoned to meet his indignant associates. 

The evidence against him was morally damning, if not legally con- 
clusive. The unhappy man heard all in the silence of despair. 
Crushed and bewildered, he attempted no defence. He asked but an 
hour to sum up the losses of the bank, and his own ; they amounted 
within a few hundreds to the ten thousand pounds he had brought to 
the firm, and which, in the absence of marriage-settlements, was 
entirely at his own disposal. This sum he at once resigned to his 
associates, on condition that they should defray from it his personal 
liabilities. The money thus repaid, his partners naturally relinquished 
all further inquiry. They were moved by pity for one so gifted and 
so fallen— thev even offered him a subordinate, but lucrative situa- 
tion, in the firm in which he had been partner; but Mainwaring 
wanted the patience and resolution to work back the redemption of 
his name — perhaps, ultimately of his fortunes. In the fatal anguish 
of his shame and despair, he fled from the town, his flight confirmed 
for ever the rumours against him — rumours worse than the reality. 



850 1TJCRETIA. 

It was long before he even admitted Susan to the knowledge of the 
obscure refuge he had sought ; there, at length, she joined him. 
Meanwhile, what did Lucretia? — she sold nearly half of her own 
fortune, constituted principally of the moiety of her portion, which, 
at Dalibard's death, had passed to herself as survivor, and partly 
of the share in her deceased husband's effects, which the French 
law awarded to her; and with the proceeds of this sum she 
purchased an annuity for her victims ! Was this strange generosity 
the act of mercy — the result of repentance ? No ; it was one of the 
not least subtleand delicious refinements of her revenge. To know 
him who had rejected her — the rival who had supplanted — the miser- 
able pensioners of her bounty, was dear to her haughty and disdainful 
hate. The lust of power, ever stronger in her than avarice, more than 
reconciled her to the sacrifice of gold ; — yes, here, she, the despised, 
the degraded — had power still ;— her wrath had ruined the fortunes 
of her victim, blasted the repute, embittered and desolated evermore 
the future, — now her contemptuous charity fed the wretched lives 
that she spared in scorn. She had no small difficulty, it is true, in 
persuading Susan to accept this sacrifice, and she did so only by sus- 
taining her sister's belief that the past yet could be retrieved — that 
Mainwaring's energies could yet rebuild their fortunes, — and that as 
the annuity was at any time redeemable, the aid therefore was only 
temporary. With this understanding, Susan, overwhelmed with 
gratitude, weeping and broken-hearted, departed to join the choice of 
her youth. As _ the men, deputed by the auctioneer to arrange and 
ticket the furniture for sale, entered the desolate house, Lucretia 
then, with the step of a conqueror, passed from the threshold. 

" Ah ! " she murmured as she paused, and gazed on the walls — 
" ah, they were happy when I first entered those doors ! — happy in 
each other's tranquil love — happier still, when they deemed I had 
forgiven the wrong, and abjured the past ! How honoured was then 
then - home ! How knew I then, for the first time, what the home of 
love can be ? and who had destroyed for me, upon all the earth, a 
home like theirs ? — they on whom that home smiled with its serene 
and taunting peace! — I — I, the guest! — I — I, the abandoned! — 
the betrayed — what dark memories were on my soul ! what a hell 
boiled within my bosom ! — Well might those memories take each a 
voice to accuse them ! — well, from that hell, might rise the ALecto ! 
Their lives were in my power ! — my fatal dowry at my command — 
rapid death, or slow consuming torture; — but to have seen each cheer 
the other to the grave, fighting every downward step vith the eyes of 
love — vengeance, so urged, would have iallen only on myself! Ha! 
deceiver, didst thou plume thyself, forsooth, on spotless reputation? 
— didst thou stand, me by tby side, amongst thy perjured household 
gods, and talk of honour ?_ Thy home — it is reft from thee! — thy 
reputation, it is a scoff — thine honour, it is a ghost that shall haunt 
thee ! Thy love, can it linger yet ? — Shall the soft eyes of thy wife 
not burn into thy heart, and shame turn love into loathing ? Wrecks 
of my vengeance — minions of ray bounty — I did well to let ye live ! I 
shake the dust from my feet on your threshold; — live on— "homeless, 
hopeless, and childless I The curse is fulfilled ! " 



LUCRETIA. 261 

From that hour, Lucretia never paused from her career to inquire 
further of her victims ;— she never entered into communication with 
either. They knew not her address, nor her fate, nor she theirs. As 
she had reckoned, Mainwaring made no effort to recover himself from 
his fall. All the high objects that had lured his ambition were gone 
from him evermore. No place in the state, no authority in the 
•mate, awaits in England the man with a blighted name. For the 
lesser objects of life, lie had no heart, and no care. They lived in 
obscurity in a small village in Cornwall, till the Peace allowed them 
to remove to France. The rest of their fate is known. 

Meanwhile, Lucretia removed to one of those smaller Londons— 
resorts of pleasure and idleness, with which rich England abounds, 
and in which widows of limited mcome can make poverty seem less 
plebeian. And now, to all those passions that had hitherto raged 
-.vithin her, a dismal apathy succeeded. It was the great calm in Ler 
mm of life. The winds fell, and the sails drooped. Her vengeance 
satisfied, that which she had made so preternaturally the main object 
of existence, once fulfilled, left her in youth objectless. 

She strove at first to take pleasure in the society of the place, but 
its frivolities and pettiness of purpose soon wearied that masculine and 
grasping mind, already made insensible to the often healthful, often 
innocent, excitement of trifles, by the terrible ordeal it had passed. Can 
t he touch of the hand, scorched by the burning iron, feel pleasure in the 
softness of silk, or the light down of the cygnet's plume ? She next 
sought such relief as study could afford; and ner natural bent of thought, 
and her desire to vindicate her deeds to herself, plunged her into the 
fathomless abyss of metaphysical inquiry, with the hope to confirm into 
positive assurance her earlier scepticism — with the atheist's hope to 
annihilate the soul, and banish the presiding God. But no voice that 
could satisfy her reason came from those dreary deeps : contradiction 
on contradiction met her in the maze. Only when, wearied with 
book-lore, she turned her eyes to the visible nature, and beheld every- 
where harmony, order, system, contrivance, art, did she start with 
the amaze and awe of instinctive conviction ; and the natural religion 
revolted from her cheerless ethics ! Then came one of those sudden 
reactions common with strong passions and exploring minds — but 
more common with women, however manlike, than with men. Had 
she lived in Italy then, she had become a nun ! For in this woman, 
unlike Varaey and Dalibard, the conscience could never be utterly 
silenced. In her choice of evil, she found only torture to her spirit in 
all the respites afforded to the occupations it indulged. When em- 
ployed upon ill, remorse gave way to the zest of scheming ; when the 
Dl was done, reniorse came with the repose. 

it was in this peculiar period of her life that Lucretia, turning 
everywhere, and desperately, for escape from the past, became ac- 
quainted with some members of one of the most rigid of the sects of 
dissent. At first, she permitted herself to know and commune with 
these persons from a kind of contemptuous curiosity ; she desired to 
encourage, in contemplating them, her experience of the follies of 
human nature ; but in that crisis of her mind, in those struggles ot 
her reason, whatever showed that which she ye*rued most to discover 

s2 



252 LUCRETIA. 

— viz., earnest laiitx, rooted and genuine conviction, whether of 
annihilation or of immortality — a philosophy that might reconcile her 
to crime by destroying the providence of good, or a creed that coula 
hold out the hope of redeeming the past, and exorcising _ sin by the 
mystery of a Di-vine sacrifice, — had over her a power which she had 
not imagined or divined. Gradually the intense _ convictions of her 
new associates disturbed and infected her. Their affirmations, that 
as we are born in wrath, so sin is our second nature, our mysterious 
heritage, seemed, to her understanding, willing to be blinded, to 
imply excuses for her past misdeeds. Their assurances that the worst 
sinner may become the most earnest saint — that through but one act 
of the will, resolute faith, all redemption is to be found, — these 
affirmations and these assurances, which have so often restored the 
guilty, and remodelled the human heart, made a salutary, if brief, 
impression upon her. Nor were the lives of these dissenters (for the 
most part, austerely moral), nor the peace and self-complacency which 
they evidently found in the satisfaction of conscience and fulfilment 
of duty, without an influence over her, that, for awhile, both chastened 
and soothed. 

Hopeful of such a convert, the good teachers strove hard to con- 
firm the seeds springing up from the granite and amidst the weeds; 
and amongst them came one man more eloquent, more seductive than 
the rest, Alfred Braddell. This person, a trader at Liverpool, was one 
of those strange living paradoxes that can rarely be found out of a 
commercial community. He himself had been a convert to the sect, 
and like most converts, he pushed his enthusiasm into the bigotry of 
the zealot. He saw no salvation out of the pale into which he had 
entered ; but though his belief was sincere, it did not genially operate 
on his practical life ; with the most scrupulous attention to forms, he 
had the worldliness and cunning of the carnal. He had abjured 
the vices of the softer senses, but not that which so seldom wars or> 
the decorums of outer life. He was essentially a money-maker — 
close, acute, keen, over-reaching. Good works with him were indeed 
as nothing — faith, the all in all. He was one of the elect, and could 
not fall. Still, in this man there was all the intensity which often cha- 
racterises a mind in proportion to the narrowness of its compass ; that 
intensity gave fire to his gloomy eloquence, and strength to his 
obstinate will. _ He saw Lncretia, and his zeal for her conversion 
soon expanded into love for her person ; yet that love was secondary 
to his covetousness. Though ostensibly in a flourishing business, he 
was greatly distressed for money to carry on operations which swelled 
beyond the reach of his capital; his fingers itched few the sum 
which Lucretia had still at her disposal ; but the seeming sincerity of 
the man, the persuasion of Ins goodness, his reputation for sanctity, 
deceived her ; she believed herself honestly and ardently beloved, and 
by one who could guide her back, if not to happiness, at least to 
repose. She herself loved him not, — she could love no more. But it 
seemed to her a luxury to find some one she could trust, she could 
honour. H you had probed into the recesses of her mind at that 
time, yon would have found that no religious belief was there settled 
—only the desperate wish to believe,— only the disturbance of aii 



LUCRKTIA. 253 

previous infidelity, — only ft restless gnawing desire to escapo from 
memory, to emerge from the gulf. In this troubled, impatient, dis- 
order of miud and feeling, she hurried into a second marriage as fatal 
as the first. 

For awhile she bore patiently all the privations of that ascetio 
household j assisted in all those external formalities, centered all her 
intellect within that iron range of existence. But no grace descended 
on her soul— no warm ray unlocked the ice of the well. Then, gra- 
dually becoming aware of the niggardly meannesses, of the harsh 
uncharitable judgments, of the decorous frauds that, with unconscious 
hypocrisy, her husband concealed beneath the robes of sanctity, a 
weary disgust stole over her, — it stole, it deepened, it increased ; it 
became intolerable, when she discovered that Braddell had knowingly 
deceived her as to Ids worldly substance. In that mood in which, 
she had rushed into these ominous nuptials, she had had no thought 
for vulgar advantages ; had Braddell been a beggar, she had married 
him as rashly. But he, with the inability to comprehend a nature like 
hers — dim not more to her terrible vices than to the sinister grandeur 
which made their ordinary atmosphere, — had descended cunningly to 
address the avarice he thought as potent in others as himself, — to 
enlarge on the worldly prosperity with which Providence had blessed 
him ; and now she saw that her dowry alone had saved the crippled 
trader from the bankrupt list. With this revolting discovery,— with 
the scorn it produced, vanished all Lucretia's unstable visions of 
reform. She saw this man a saint amongst his tribe, and would not 
believe in the virtues of his brethren, great and unquestionable as 
they might have been proved to a more dispassionate and humble 
inquirer. The imposture she detected, she deemed universal in the 
circle in which she dwelt ; and Satan once more smiled upon the sub- 
ject he regained. Lucretia became a mother— but their child formed 
no endearing tie between the ill-assorted pair ; it rather embittered 
their discori Dimly, even then, as she bent over the cradle, that 
vision which now, in the old house at Brompton, haunted her dreams, 
and beckoned her over seas of blood into the fancied future, was fore- 
shadowed in the face of her infant son. To be born again ill that 
birth, — to live only in that life,— to aspire as man may aspire, in that 
future man whom she would train to knowledge, and lead to power — 
these were the feelings with which that sombre mother gazed upon 
her babe. The idea that the low-born grovelling father had the sole 
right over that son's destiny, had the authority to cabin his mind in 
the walls of form, bind him down to the sordid apprenticeship, 
debased, not dignified, by the solemn mien, roused her indignant 
wrath— she sickened when Braddell touched her child. All her pride 
of intellect, that had never slept — all her pride of birth, long dormant, 
woke up to protect the heir of her ambition, the descendant of her 
race, from the defilement of the father's nurture. Not long after her 
confinement, she formed a plan for escape — she disappeared from the 
house with her child. Taking refuge in a cottage, living on the sale 
of the few jewels she possessed, she was for some weeks almost happy. 
But Braddell, less grieved by the loss than shocked by the scandal, 
was indefatigable in his researches— he discovered her retreat. The 



254 LtrcKETM. 

scene between them -was terrible. There was no resisting the power 
which all civilised laws give to the rights of husband and father. 
Before this man, whom she scorned so unutterably, Lucretia was 
impotent. Then all the boiling passions long suppressed beneath that 
command of temper, which she owed both to habitual simulation and 
intense disdain, rushed forth. Then she appalled the impostor with 
her indignant denunciations of his hypocrisy, his meanness, and his 
guile. Then, throwing off the mask she had worn, she hurled her 
anathema on his sect, on his faith, with the same breath that smote 
his conscience, and left it wordless. She shocked all the notions he 
sincerely entertained, and he stood awed by accusations from a blas- 
phemer whom he dared not rebuke. His rage broke at length from 
Ills awe. Stung, maddened by the scorn of himself, his blood fired 
into juster indignation by her scoff at his creed, he lost all self-posses- 
sion, and struck her to the ground. In the midst of shame, and dread 
at disclosure of his violence, which succeeded the act so provoked, he 
was not less relieved than amazed when Lucretia, rising slowly, laid 
her hand gently on his arm, and said, "Repent not, it is past; fear 
not, I will be silent ! Come, you are the stronger — you prevail. I 
will follow my child to your home." 

In this unexpected submission in one so imperious, Braddell's 
imperfect comprehension of character saw but fear, and his stupidity 
exulted in his triumph. Lucretia returned with him. A few days 
afterwards, Braddell became ill ; the illness increased,— slow, gradual, 
wearing. It broke his spirit with his health ; and then the steadfast 
imperiousness of Lucretia's stern will ruled and subjugated him. 
He cowered beneath her haughty, searching gaze, he shivered at 
her sidelong, malignant glance ; but with this fear came neces- 
sarily hate ; and this hate, sometimes sufficing to vanquish the fear, 
spitefully evinced itself in thwarting her legitimate control over her 
infant. He would have it (though he had little real love for children) 
constantly with him, and affected to contradict all her own orders to 
the servants, in the sphere in which mothers arrogate most the right. 
Only on these occasions sometimes would Lucretia lose her grim self- 
control, and threaten that her child yet should be emancipated from 
his hands — should yet be taught the scorn for hypocrites, which he 
had taught herself. These words sank deep not only in the resent- 
ment, but in the conscience of the husband. Meanwhile, Lucretia 
scrupled not to tvince her disdain of Braddell, by markedly abstaining 
from all the ceremonies she had before so rigidly observed. The sect 
grew scandalised ; Braddell did not abstain from making known his 
causes of complaint. The haughty, imperious woman was condemned 
in the community, and hated in the household. 

It was at this time that Walter Ardworth, who was then striving 
to eke out his means by political lectures (which at the earlier part of 
the century found ready audience) in our great towns, came to Liver- 
pool. Braddell and Ardworth had been schoolfellows, and even at 
school, embryo politicians of congenial notions ; and the conversion of 
the former to one of the sects which had grown out of the old creeds, 
that, under Cromwell, had broken the sceptre of the son of Belial, and 
established the Commonwealth of Saints, had only strengthened the 



LT/CRETIA. 255 

republican tenets of the sour fanatic. Ardworth called on Braddell, 
and was startled to lind in his schoolfellow's wife the niece of his 
benefactor, Sir Miles St. John. Now, Lucretia had never divulged 
her true parentage to her husband. In a union so much beneath her 
birth, she had desired to conceal from all her connections the fall of 
the once-honoured heiress. She had descended, in search of peace, to 
obscurity ; but her pride revolted from the thought, that her low-born 
huslwud might boast of her connections, and parade her descent to 
his level. Fortunately, as she thought, she received Ardworth before 
he was admitted to her husband, who now, growing feebler and 
feebler, usually kept his room. She stooped to beseech Ardworth not 
to reveal her secret, and he, comprehending her pride, as a man well- 
born himself, and pitying her pain, readily gave his promise. At the 
first interview, Braddell evinced no pleasure in the sight of his old 
schoolfellow. It was natural enough that one so precise should be 
somewhat revolted by one so careless of all form. But when Lucretia 
imprudently evinced satisfaction at his surly remarks on his visitor-^ 
when lie perceived that it would please her that he should not culti- 
vate the acquaintance offered him, he was moved by the spirit of con- 
tradiction, and the spiteful delight even in frivolous annoyance to 
conciliate and court the intimacy he had at first disdained : and then, 
by degrees, sympathy in political matters and old recollections of 
sportive, careless boyhood, cemented the intimacy into a more familiar 
bond than the sectarian had contracted really with any of his late 
associates. 

Lucretia regarded this growing friendship with great uneasiness — 
the uneasiness increased to alarm, when one day, in the presence of 
Ardworth, Braddell, writhing with a sudden spasm, said—" I cannot 
account for these strange seizures — I think verily I am poisoned! " — 
and his dull eye rested on Lucretia's pallid brow. She was unusually 
thoughtful for some days after this remark, and one morning she 
informed her husband that she had received the intelligence that a rela- 
tion, from whom she had pecuniary expectations, was dangerously ill, 
and requested his permission to visit this sick kinsman, who dwelt in 
a distant county. Braddell's eyes brightened at the thought of her 
absence: with little further questioning he consented j and Lucretia, 
sure perhaps that the barb was in the side of her victim, and reckon- 
ing, it may be, on greater freedom from suspicion if her husband died 
in her absence, left the house. It was, indeed, to the neighbourhood 
of her kindred that she went. In a private conversation with Ard- 
worth, when questioning him of his news of the present possessor of 
Laughton, he nad informed her, that he had heard accidentally that 
Vernon's two sons (Percival was not then born) were sickly ; and she 
went into Hampshire, secretly and unknown, to see what were really 
the chances that her son might yet become the lord of her lost inheri- 
tance. 

During this absence, Braddell, now gloomily aware that his days 
were numbered, resolved to put mto practice the idea long contem- 
plated, and even less favoured by his spite than justified by the 
genuine convictions of his conscience. Whatever his faults, sincere 
at least in his religious belief, he might well look with dread to the 



256 LTJCRETIA. 

prospect of the training and education his son would receive from the 
lianas of a mother who had blasphemed his sect, and openly pro- 
claimed her infidelity. By will, it is true, he might create a trust, and 
appoint guardians to his child. But to have lived under the same 
roof with his wife — nay, to have carried her back to that roof when 
she had left it, afforded tacit evidence that whatever the disagreement 
between them, her conduct could hardly have merited her exclusion 
from the privileges of a mother. The guardianship might therefore 
avail little to frustrate Lucretia's indirect contamination, if not her 
positive control. Beside, where guardians are appointed money must 
be left ; and Braddell knew that at his death his assets would be 
found insufficient for his debts. Who would be guardian to a penni- 
less infant ? He resolved, therefore, tosend his child from his roof, 
to some place where, if reared humbly, it might at least be brought 
up in the right faith — some place which might defy the search and be 
beyond the perversion of the unbelieving mother. He looked round, 
and discovered no instrument for his purpose that seemed so ready as 
Walter Ardworth. For by this time he had thoroughly excited the 
pity and touched the heart of that good-natured, easy man. His 
representations of the misconduct of Lucretia were the more implicitly 
believed by one who had always been secretly prepossessed against 
her — who, admitted to household intimacy, was an eye-witness to her 
hard indifference to her husband's sufferings — who saw in her very 
request not to betray her gentle birth, the shame she felt in her elec- 
tion — who regarded with indignation her unfeeling desertion of 
Braddell in his last moments, and who, besides all this, had some 
private misfortunes of his own, which made him the more ready 
listener to themes on the faults of women, and had already, by 
mutual confidences, opened the hearts of the two ancient school- 
fellows to each other's complaints and wrongs. The only other con- 
fidante in the refuge selected for the child, was a member of the 
same community as Braddell, who kindly undertook to search for a 
pious, godly woman, who, upon such pecuniary considerations as 
Braddell, by robbing his creditors, could afford to bestow, would per- 
manently offer to the poor infant a mother's home and a mother's 
care. When this woman was found, Braddell confided his child to 
Ardworth, with such a sum as he could scrape together for its future 
maintenance. And to Ardworth, rather than to his fellow-sectarian, 
this double trust was given, because the latter feared scandal and 
misrepresentation, if he should be ostensibly mixed up in so equi- 
vocal a charge. Poor and embarrassed as Walter Ardworth was, 
Braddell did not for once misinterpret character when he placed the 
money in his hands ; and this because the characters we have known 
in transparent boyhood we have known for ever. Ardworth was 
reckless, and his whole life had been wrecked — his whole nature 
materially degraded — by the want of common thrift and prudence. 
His own money slipped through his fingers, and left him surrounded 
by creditors, whom, rigidly speaking, he thus defrauded ; but direct 
dishonesty was as wholly out of the chapter of Las vices, as if he had 
been a man of the strictest principles and the steadiest honour. 
The child was gone — the father died — Lucretia returned, as we 



lucmiia. 257 

have seen in Grabman's letter, to the house of death, to meet sus- 
picion and cold looks, and menial accusations, and an inquest on the 
dead : hut through all this the reft tigress mourned her stolen whelp. 
As soon as all evidence against her was proved legally groundless, 
and she had leave to depart, she searched mindly and frantically for 
her lost child ; but in vain. The utter and penniless destitution in 
which she was left by her husband's decease did not suffice to termi- 
nate her maddening chase. On foot she wandered from village to 
village, and begged her way, wherever a false clue misled her steps. 

At last, in reluctant despair, she resigned the pursuit, and found 
herself one day in the midst of the streets of London, half-famished 
and in rags ; and before her suddenly, now grown into vigorous 
vouth — blooming, sleek, and seemingly prosperous — stood Gabriel 
Varney. By her voice, as she approached and spoke, he recognised 
his step-mother ; and, after a short pause of hesitation, he led her to 
his home. It is not our purpose (for it is not necessary to those 
passages of their lives from which we have selected the thread of our 
tale) to follow these two, thus united, through their general career of 
spoliation and crime. Birds of prey, they searched in human follies 
and human errors for their food : sometimes severed, sometimes 
together, their interests remained one. Varney profited by the 
mightier and subtler genius of evil to which he had leashed himself; 
for, caring little for luxuries, and dead to the softer senses, she aban- 
doned to him readily the larger share of their plunder. Under a 
variety of names and disguises, through a succession of frauds, some 
vast and some mean, but chiefly on the Continent, they had pursued 
their course, eluding all danger, and baffling^ all law. 

Between three and four years before this period, Varney's uncle, 
the painter, • by one of those unexpected caprices of fortune which 
sometimes find heirs to a millionaire at the weaver's loom or the 
labourers' plough, had suddenly, by the death of a very distant kins- 
man, whom he had never seen, come into possession of a small estate, 
which he sold for 6,000/. Retiring from Ms profession, he lived as 
comfortably as his shattered constitution permitted, upon the interest 
of this sum ; and he wrote to his nephew, then at Paris, to commu- 
nicate the good news, and offer the hospitality of his hearth. Vamey 
hastened to London. Shortly afterwards a nurse, recommended as 
an experienced, useful person in her profession, by Nicholas Grab- 
man, who. in many a tortuous scheme, had been Gabriel's confederate, 
was installed in the poor painter's house. From that time his infir- 
mities increased. He died, as his doctor said, " by abstaining from 
the stimulants to which his constitution had been so long accus- 
tomed ;" and Gabriel Varney was summoned to the reading of the 
will. To his inconceivable disappointment, instead of bequeathing 
to his nephew the free disposal of his 6,000/., that sum was assigned 
to trustees for the benefit of Gabriel and his children yet unborn : 
" An inducement," said the poor testator, tenderly, " for the boy to 
marry and reform ! " So that the nephew could only enjoy the interest, 
and had no control over the capital. The interest of 6,000/. invested 
in the Bank of England, was fiocci, naitci to the voluptuous spend* 
tiirift, Gabriel Varney ! 



9a» luCsa'Sfc 

Now, these trustees were selected from tne painter's earner an<{ 
more respectable associates, who had dropped him, it is true, in his 
days of beggary and disrepute, but whom the fortune that made 
him respectable had again conciliated. One of these trustees had 
lately retired to pass the remainder of his days at Boulogne ; — the 
other was a hypochondriacal valetudinarian; neither of them, in 
short, a man of business. Gabriel was left to draw out the interest 
of the money, as it became periodically due at the Bank of England. 
In a few months, the trustee settled at Boulogne died — the trust, of 
course, lapsed to Mr. Stubmore, the valetudinarian survivor. Soon 
pinched by extravagances, and emboldoned by the character and 
helpless state of the surviving trustee, Yarney forged Mr. Stub- 
more's signature to an order on the Bank, to sell out such portion of 
the capital as his wants required. The impunity of one offence begot 
courage for others, till the whole was well nigh expended. Upon 
these sums Yarney had lived very pleasantly, and he saw with a deep 
sigh the approaching failure of so facile a resource. 

In one of the melancholy moods engendered by this reflection, 
Varney happened to be in the very town in France in which the 
Mainwarings, in their later years, had taken refuge, and from which 
Helen had been removed to the roof of Mr. Eielden. By accident he 
heard the name, and, his curiosity leading to further inquiries, 
learned that Helen was made an heiress by the will of her grandfather. 
With this knowledge came a thought of the most treacherous, the 
most miscreant and the vilest crime, that even he yet had perpetrated ; 
so black was it, that for awhile, he absolutely struggled against it. 
But in guilt there seems ever a Necessity, that urges on step after 
step — to the last consummation. "Varney received a letter to inform 
him that the last surviving trustee was no more, that the trust was, 
therefore, now centered in his son and heir, that that gentleman was 
at present very busy in setthng his own affairs, and examining into 
a very mismanaged property in Devonshire, which had devolved 
upon him ; but that he noped in a few months to discharge more 
efficiently, than his father had done, the duties of trustee, and that 
some more profitable investment than the Bank of England would 
probably occur. 

This new trustee was known personally to Yarney — a contemporary 
of his own, and, in earlier youth, a pupil to his uncle. But, since 
then, he had made way in life, and retired from the Profession of Art. 
This younger Stubmore, he knew to be a bustling, officious man of 
business — somewhat greedy and covetous, but withal somewhat weak 
of purpose, good-natured in the main, and with a little lukewarm 
kindness for Gabriel, as a quondam fellow-pupil. That Stubmore 
would discover the fraud was evident — that he would declare it, for 
nis own sake, was evident also — that the Bank would prosecute — that 
Varney would be convicted, was no less surely to be apprehended. 
There was only one chance left to the forger— if he could get into his 
hands, and. in time, before Stubmore's bustling interference, a sum 
sufficient to replace what had been fraudulently taken — he might 
eashy manage, he thought, to prevent the forgery ever becommg 
known. Nay, if Stubmore, roused into strict personal investigation, 



LtTCRBTiA. 25$ 

by the new nower of attorney, which a new investment in tne Bans 
would render necesssary, should ascertain what had occurred, Ms 
liabilities being; now indemnified, and the money replaced, Varney 
thought he could confidently rely on his ci-devant fellow-pupil's assent 
to wink at the forgery, and hush up the matter. But this was his 
only chance. How was the money to be gained ? He thought of 
Helen's fortune, and the last scruple gave way to the imminence of 
his peril, and the urgency of his fears. 

With this decision, he repaired to Lucretia, whose concurrence 
was necessary to his designs. Long habits of crime had now deepened 
still more the dark and stern colour of that dread woman's sombre 
nature. But through all that had ground the humanity from her soul, 
one human sentiment, fearfully tainted and adulterated as it was, still 
struggled for life— the memory of the mother. It was, by this, her 
least criminal emotion, that Varney led her to the worst of her 
crimes. He offered to sell out the remainder of the trust-money by a 
fresh act of forgery— to devote such proceeds to the search for her 
lost Vincent ; he revived the hopes she had long since gloomily relin- 
quished, till she began to conceive the discovery easy and certain. 
He then brought before her the prospect of that son's succession to 
Laughton— but two lives now between him and those broad lands — 
those two lives, associated with just cause of revenge ! — two lives ! 
Lucretia, till then, did not know that Susan had left a child — that a 
pledge of those nuptials, to which she imputed all her infamy, existed 
to revive a jealousy never extinguished, appeal to the hate that had 
grown out of her love. More readily than Varney had anticipated, 
and with fierce exultation, she fell into his horrible schemes. 

Thus had she returned to England, and claimed thf xuardianshin of 
her niece. Varney engaged a dull house in the suburb, and looking 
out for a servant, not likely to upset and betray, found the nurse who 
hadwatched over his uncle's last Alness; but Lucretia, according to her 
invariable practice, rejected all menial accomplices — reposed no con- 
fidence in the tools of her black deeds. Feigning an infirmity that 
would mock all suspicion of the hand that mixed the draught, and the 
step that stole to the slumber, she defied the justice of earth, and 
stood alone under the omniscience of heaven. 

Various considerations had delayed^ the execution of the atrocious 
deed so coldly contemplated. Lucretia herself drew- back ; perhaps 
more daunted by consciencethan she herself was distinctly aware, — 
and disguising her scruples in those yet fouler refinements of hoped 
revenge which her conversations with Varney have betrayed to the 
reader. The failure of the earlier researches for the lost Vincent, the 
suspended activity of Stubmore, left the more impatient murderer 
leisure to make the acquaintance of St. John, steal into the confi- 
dence of Helen, and render the insurances on the life of the latter less 
open to suspicion than if effected immediately on her entrance into 
that shamble-house, and before she could be supposed to form that 
affection for her aunt which made probable so tender a forethought. 
These causes of delay now vanished, the Parca3 closed the abrupt 
woof, and lifted the impending shears. 

Lucretia had long since dropped the name of Braddell. She shrank, 



360 LUCRETIA. 

from proclaiming those second spousals, sullied by the degradation to 
which they had exposed her, and the suspicions implied on the inquest 
on her husband, until the hour for acknowleding her son should 
■arrive. She resumed, therefore, the name of Dahbard, and by that 
we will continue to call her. Nor was Varney uninfiuential in dis- 
-suading her from proclaiming her second marriage till occasion neces- 
sitated. If the son were discovered, and the proofs of his birth hi 
the keeping of himself and his accomplice, his avarice naturally sug- 
gested the expediency of wringing from that son some pledge of 
adequate reward on succession to an inheritance which they alone 
could secure to him : out of this fancied fund, not only Grabman, but 
his employer was to be paid. The concealment of the identity between 
Mrs. Braddell and Madame Dalibard might facilitate such an arrange- 
ment. This idea Yaruey locked as yet in his own breast. He did not 
dare to speak to Lucretia of the bargain he ultimately meditated with 
her son. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

MB. GRABMAN'S ADVENTURES. 

The lacqueys in their dress liveries stood at the porch of Laughton, 
as the postilions drove rapidly along the road, sweeping through 
-venerable groves tinged with the hues of autumn, up to that stately 
pile. Prom the window of the large cumbrous vehicle, which Perci- 
vaL mindful of Madame Dabbard's infirmity, had hired for her special 
accommodation, Lucretia looked keenly forth. On the slope of the 
hill grouped the deer, and below, where the lake gleamed, the swan 
rested on the wave. Farther on to the left, gaunt and stag-headed, 
rose, living still, from the depth of the glen, Guy's memorable oak. 
Coming now in sight, though at a distance, the grey church tower 
emerged from the surrounding masses of solemn foliage. Suddenly, 
the road curves round, and straight before her (the rooks cawing 
above the turrets, the sun reflected from the vanes) Lucretia gazes on 
the halls of Laughton. And didst thou not, Guy's oak, murmur 
warning from thine oracular hollows ? And thou, who sleepest below 
the church tower, didst thou not turn, Miles St. John, in thy grave, 
when, with such tender care, the young Lord of Laughton bore that 
•silent guest across his threshold, and with credulous, moistened eyes, 
welcomed Treason and Murther to his hearth ? 

There, at the porch, paused Helen, gazing with the rapt eye of the 
poetess on the broad landscape, chequered by the vast shadows cast 
irom the setting sun. There, too, by her side, lingered Varney, with 
an artist's eye for the stately scene, till a thought, not of art, changed 
the face of the earth, and the view without mirrored back the Golgo- 
tha of his soul. 

Leave them thus — we must hurry uu. 



LUCRETIA. 26J 

One day a traveller stopped his gig at a public-house in a village in 
Lancashire. He chucked the rein to the ostler, and in reply to a 
question what oats should should be given to the horse, said — " Hay 
and water— the beast is on job." Then sauntering to the bar, he 
called for a glass of raw brandy for himself- and while the host 
drew the spirit forth from the tap, he asked, carelessly, if, some 
years ago, a woman of the name of Joplin had not resided in the 
village ? 

" It is strange," said the host, musingly. 

"What is strange?" 

" Why, we have just had a gent asking the same question. I 
have only been here nine year come December, but my old ostler 
was born in the village and never left it. So the gent had in the 
ostler, and he is now gone into the village to pick up what else he can 
leam." 

This intelligence seemed to surprise and displease the traveller. 
" What the deuce," he muttered, does Jason mistrust me ? Has he 
set another dog on the scent ? Humph!" He drained off his brandy, 
and sallied forth to confer with the ostler. 

" Well, my friend," said Mr. Grabman, for the traveller was no other 
than that worthy — " well, so you remember Mrs. Joplin more than 
twenty years ago — eh ? " 

" Yees, I guess : more than twenty years since the left the 
Pleck." * 

" Ah, she seems to have been a restless body — she had a child with 
ler ! " 

" Yees, I moind that." 

" And I dare say you heard her say the child was not her own, that 
she was paid well for it, eh ? " , 

" Noa ; my missus did not loike me to chaffer much with neigh- 
30ur Joplin, for she was but a bad 'un — pretty fease, too. She lived 
igin the vjogh f yonder, where you see that gent coming out." 

" Oho ! that is the gent who was asking_ after Mrs. Joplin ?" 

" Yes; and he giv' me half-a-croon ! " said the clever ostler, holding 
rat his hand. 

Mr. Grabman, too thoughtful, too jealous of his rival, to take the 
lint at that moment, darted off, as fast as his thin legs could carry 
:im, towards the unwelcome interferer in his own business. 

Approaching the gentleman — a tall, powerful-looking young man — 
le somewhat softened his tone, and mechanically touched his hat as 
le said — • 

" What, sir, are you, too, in search of Mrs. Joplin ? " 

" Sir, I am," answered the young man, eying Grabman delibe- 
-ately, "and you, I suppose, are the person I have found before me on 
;he same search — first, at Liverpool ; next, at C— — , about fifteen 

niles from that town ; thirdly, at L ; and now we meet here. You 

lave had the start of me. What have you learned ? " 

Mr. Grabman smiled : " Softly, sir, softly. May I first ask (since 
upen questioning seems the order of the day), whether I have the 

* Pleck,— Lancashire anil Yorkshire, synonym for place. 
t Angliee, — wall. 



$88 



LTJCKETIA. 



honour to address a brother practitioner — one of the law, sir — one of 
the law?" 

" I am one of the law." 

Mr. Grabman bowed and scowled. 

" And may I make bold to ask the name of your client ? " 

" Certainly, you may ask. Every man has a right to ask what he 
pleases, in a civil way." 

"But you'll not answer ? Deep ! Oh, I understand ! Very good. 
But I am deep too, sir. You know Mr. Yarney, I suppose ? " 

The gentleman looked surprised. Bis bushy brows met over his 
steady, sagacious eyes ; but after a moment's pause, the expression ot 
the face cleared up. 

"It is as I thought," he said half to himself. " Who else could 
have had an interest in similar inquiries ? — Sir," he added, with a 
quick and decided tone, " you are, doubtless, employed by Mr. Yai 
ney, on behalf of Madame Dahbard, and in search of evidence con- 
nected with the loss of an unhappy infant. I am on the same 
quest, and for the same end. The interests of your client are mine. 
Two heads are better than one; let us unite our ingenuity and 
endeavours." 

" And share the pec, I suppose ? " said Grabman drily, buttoning 
up his pockets. 

" Whatever fee you may expect you will have, anyhow, whether I 
assist you or not. I expect no fee — for mine is a personal interest, 
which I serve gratuitously ; but I can undertake to promise you, on 
my own part, more than the ordinary professional reward for your 
co-operation." 

" Well, sir," said Grabman, mollified, " yeu speak very much like a 
gentleman. My feelings were hurt at first, I own. I am hasty, but I 
can listen to reason. Will you walk back with me to the house you 
have just left ? and suppose we then turn in and have a chop toge- 
ther, and compare notes." 

"Willingly!" answered the tall stranger, and the two inquisitors 
amicably joined company. The result of their inquiries was not, how- 
ever, very satisfactory. No one knew whither Mrs. Joplin had gone, 
though all agreed it was in company with a man of bad character and 
vagrant habits ; all agreed, too, in the vague recollection of the child, 
and some remembered that it was dressed iu clothes finer than would 
have been natural to an infant legally and filially appertaining to 
Mrs. Joplin. One old woman remembered, that on her reproaching 
Mrs. Joplin for some act of great cruelty to the poor babe, she replied 
that it was not her flesh and blood, and that if she had not expected 
more than she had got, she would never have undertaken the charge. 
On comparing the information gleaned at the previous places of their 
research, they found an entire agreement as to the character personally 
horneby Mrs. Joplin. At the village to which their inquiry had been 
first directed, she was known as a respectable, precise young woman, one 
of a small congregation of rigid dissenters. She had married a member 
of the sect, and borne him a child, which died two weeks after birth. 
She was then seen nursing another infant — though how she came by 
it, none knew, Shortly, after this, her husband, a journeyman car* 



I.UWXETIA. 283 

neuter of good repute, died ; but, to the surprise of the neighbours, 
Airs. Joplin continued to live as comfortably as before, and seemed 
not to miss the wages of her husband; nay, she rather now, as if 
before kept back by the prudence of the deceased, launched into a less 
thrifty mode of life, and a gaiety of dress at variance both with the 
mourning her recent loss should have imposed, and the austere tenets 
of her sect. This indecorum excited angry curiosity, and drew down 
stern remonstrance. Mrs. Joplin, in apparent disgust at this inter- 
meddling with her affairs, withdrew from the village to a small town, 
about twenty miles distant, and there set up a shop. But her moral 
lapse became now confirmed ; her life was notoriously abandoned, and 
her house the resort of all the reprobates of the place. Whether her 
means began to be exhausted, or the scandal she provoked attracted 
the notice of the magistrates, and imposed a check on her course, was 
not very certain, but she sold off her goods suddenly, and was next 
tracked to the village in which Mr. Grabman met his new coadjutor ; 
and there, though her conduct was less flagrant and her expenses lesa 
reckless, she made but a very unfavourable impression, which was 
confinned by her flight with an itinerant hawker of the lowest possible 
character. Seated over their port wine, the two gentlemen compared 
their experiences, and consulted on the best mode of re-mending the 
broken thread of their research; when Mr. Grabman said, coolly, 
" But, after all, I think it most likely that we are not on the right 
scent. This bantling may not be the one we search for." 

"Be not misled by that doubt. To arrive at the evidence we 
desire, we must still track this wretched woman." 

" You are certain of that ?" 

"Certain." 

" Hem ! Did you ever hear of a Mr. Walter Ardworth ?" 

"Yes; what of him?" 

" Why, he cau best tell us where to look for the child." 

" I am sure he would counsel as I do." 

"You know him, then ?" 

"I do." 

"What!— he lives still?" 

"I hope so.". 

" Can you bring me across him ?" 

" If necessary." 

"And that young man, who goes by his name, brought up by 
Mr. Fielden? — " 

"Well, sir?" 

" Is he not the son of Mr. Braddell ? " 

The stranger was silent, and, shading his face with his hand, 
seemed buried in thought. He then rose, took his candle, and said 
quietly — 

" Sir, I wish you good evening. I have letters to write in my own 
room. I will consider by to-morrow, if you stay till then, whether we 
can really aid each other farther, or whether we should pursue our 
researches separately." With these words he closed the door ; and 
Mr. Grabman remained baffled and bewildered. 

However, he too had a letter to write ; so, calling for pen, ink, and 



SG'l HTCRETIA. 

paper, and a pint of brandy, he indited his complaints and his news 
to Varney : 

"Jason" (he began), "are you playing me false? Have you set 
another man on the track with a view to bilk me of my promised fee ? 
— Explain, or I throw up the business." 

Herewith, Mr. Grabman gave a minute description of the stranger, 
and related pretty accurately what had passed Detween that gentle- 
man and himself. He then added the progress of his own inquiries, 
and renewed, as peremptorily as he dared, his demand for candour 
and plain dealing. Now, it so happened, that in stumbling up stairs 
to bed, Mr. Grabman passed the room in which his mysterious fellow- 
seeker was lodged, and as is the usage in hostels, a pair of boots 
stood outside the door, to be cleaned betimes in the morning. Though 
somewhat drunk, Grabman still preserved the rays of his habitual 
astuteness. A clever, and a natural idea, shot across his brain, illu- 
minating the fumes of the brandy ; he stooped, and while one hand on 
the wall steadied his footing, with the other he fished up a boot, and 
peering within, saw legibly written — " John Ardworth, Esq., Gray's 
Inn." At that sight, he felt what a philosopher feels at the sudden 
elucidation of a troublesome problem. Down stairs again tottered 
Grabman, re-opened his letter, and wrote — " P.S. — I have wronged 
you, Jason, by my suspicions ; nevermind — Jubilate! This interloper, 
who made me so jealous — who, think you, it is ? Why, young Ardworth 
himself — that is, the lad who goes by_ such name. Now, is it not 
clear ?— of course, no one else has such interest in learning his birth as 
the lost child himself— here he is ! If old Ardworth lives (as he 
says), old Ardworth has set him to work on his own business. But 
then, that Eielden — rather a puzzler that ! Yet, no ; — now I under- 
stand — old Ardworth gave the boy to Mrs. Joplin, and took it away 
from her again when he went to the parson's. Now, certainly, it may 
be quite necessary to prove— first, that the boy he took from Mr. Brad- 
dell's he gave to Mrs. Joplin ; secondly, that the boy he left with 
Mr. Fielden was the same that he took again from that woman — 
therefore, the necessity of finding out Mother Joplin, an essential 
witness : Q. E. D., Master Jason!" 

It was not till the sun had been some hours risen, that Mr. Grab- 
man imitated that luminary's example. When he did so, he found, 
somewhat to his chagrin, that John Ardworth had long been gone. 
In fact, whatever the motive that had led the latter on the search, he 
had succeeded in gleaning from Grabman all that that person could 
communicate, and their interview had inspired him with such disgust 
of the attorney, and so small an opinion of the value of his co-opera- 
tion (in which last belief, perhaps, he was mistaken), that he had 
resolved to continue his inquiries alone, and had already, in his early 
morning's walk through the village, ascertained that the man with 
whom Mrs. Joplin had quitted the place, had some time after been 
sentenced to six months' imprisonment in the county gaol. Possibly, 
the prison authorities might know something to lead to his discovery; 
and through him the news of his paramour might be gained. 



OHAPTER XX. 



MOltE OP MRS. JOl'LIN. 



O.ve day at the hour of noon, the court boasting the tall residence 
of Mr. Grabnian was startled from the quiet usually reigning there at 
broad daylight, by the appearance of two men, evidently no inhabi- 
tants of the place. The squalid, ill-favoured denizens, lounging before 
the doors, stared hard ; and, at the fuller view of one of the men, 
most of them retreated hastily within. Then, in those houses, you 
might have heard a murmur of consternation and alarm. The ferret 
Mas in the burrow — a Bow-street officer in the court ! The two men 
mused, looked round, and, stopping before the dingy tower-like 
Iiouse, selected the bell which appealed to the inmates of the ground- 
lloor, to the left. At that summons Bill the cracksman imprudently 
presented a full view of his countenance through his barred window ; 
he drew it back with astonishing celerity ; but not in time to escape 
the eye of the Bow-street runner. 

"Open the door, Bill — there's nothing to fear — I have no summons 
against you, 'pon honour. You know I never deceive. Why should 
1 'i Open the door, I say ! " 

Xo answer. 

The officer tapped with his cane at the foul window. 

" Bill ! there's a gentleman who comes to you for information, and 
he will pay for it handsomely." 

Bill again appeared at the casement, and peeped forth very cap- 
tiously, through the bars. 

" Bless my vitals, Mr. B, ! and it is you, is it ? What were you 

saying about paying handsomely? ' " 

" That your evidence is wanted— not against a pal, man. It will 
hurt no one, and put at least five guineas in your pocket." 

" Ten guineas ! " said the Bow-street officer's companion. 

" You he's a man of 'onor, Mr. R ! " said Bill, emphatically ; 

" and I scorns to doubt you, so here goes." 

With that, he withdrew from the window, and in another minute or 
so the door was opened, and Bill, with a superb bow, asked his visitors 
into his room 

In the interval, leisure had been given to the cracksman to remove 
all trace of the wonted educational employment of his hopeful children. 
The urchins were seated on the floor, playing at push-pin : and the 
Bow- street officer benignly patted a pair of curly heads as he passed 
them, drew a chair to the table, and wiping his forehead, sat down, 
quite at home. Bill then deliberately seated himself, and unbuttoning 
his waistcoat, permitted the butt-ends of a brace of pistols to be seen 
by his guests. Mr. R.'s companion seemed very unmoved by this 
u^iiificant action. He bent one inquiring steady look on the cracks 



268 iVCKETIA. 

man, which, as Bill afterwards said, went through, him " like a gimlel 
through a penny," and, taking out a purse, through the network of 
which the sovereigns gleamed "pleasantly, placed it on the table, and 
said: 

" This purse is yours, if you will tell me what has become of a 
•woman named Joplin, with whom you left the village of , in Lan- 
cashire, in the year 18 — ." 

" And," put in Mr. R , "the gentleman wants to know, with 

no view of harming the woman. It will be to her own advantage to 
inform us where she is." 

" Pon honour, again ! " said Bill. 

" Pon honour ! " 

" Well, then, I has a heart in my buzzom, and if so be I can do a 
good turn to the o'man wot I has loved — and kep company with, — whj 
not ? " 

" Why not, indeed ? " said Mr. R . " And as we want to 

learn, not only what has become of Mrs. Joplin, but what she did with 

the child she carried off from , begin at the beginning, and tell us 

all you know." 

Bill mused. 

" How much is there in the pus P " 

" Eighteen sovereigns." 

" Make it twenty — you nod, — twenty then ? — a bargain ! Now 
I'll go on right a-head. You see as how, some months arter we — that 

is, Peggy Joplin and self, left , I was put in quod in Lancaster 

gaol — so I lost sight of the blowen. When I got out, and came to 
Lunnun — it was a matter of seven year, afore, all of a sudding, I 
came bang up agin her — at the corner of Common Garden. ' Why, 
Bill ! ' says she. ' Why, Peggy ! ' says I— and we bussed each other 
like winky. ' Shall us come together agin ? ' says she. ' Why, no,' 
says I — ' 1 has a wife wots a good un — and gets ner bread by setting 
up as a widder with seven small childern ! By the bye, Peg, what's 
a come of your brat ? ' for as you says, sir, Peg had a child put out 
to her to nurse. Lor ! how she cuffed it ! ' The brat ! ' says she, 
laughing like mad — ' Oh, I got rid o' that, when you were in jail, 
Bill.' 'As how?' says I. 'Why there was a woman begging agin 
St. Poll's churchyard — so I purtended to see a frind at a distance — 
' 'old the babby a moment,' says I, puffing and panting — while I 
ketches my friend yonder.' So she 'olds the brat, and I never sees it 
agin ; — and there's an ind of the bother ! ' ' But won't they ever ax 
for the child — them as giv' it you? ' ' Oh, no,' says Peg, ' they left it 
too long for that, and all the tm was a-gone ; and one mouth is hard 
enough to feed in these days ! — let by other folks' bantlings.' ' Well,' 
says 1, 'where do you hang out ? I'll pop in, in a friendly way.' So 
she tells me — som'are in Lambeth (I forgets hexackly) — and many's 
the good piece of work we ha' done togither." 

" And where is she now ? " — asked Mr. B- 's companion. 

" I doesn't know purcisely, but I can com' at her : you see, when 
my poor wife died, four year com' Chris'mas, and left me with as fine 
a famuly, tho' I says it, as h-old King Georgy himself walked afore, 
with his goM '"caded cane, on the terris at Vindsor — all heights ana 



LUCKBTIA. 257 

all h-ages, to the babby in arms (for the littel un there warn't above 
a year old, and had been a-brought up upon spoon-meat, with a dash 
o' blue-ruin to make him slim and ginteel) ; as for the bigger una 
wot you don't see, they be doin' well in forin parts, Mr. R ! " 

Mr. II. smiled, significantly. 

Bill resumed. " Where was I ? Oh, when my wife died, I wanted 
sum un to take care of the childern, so I takes Peg into the 'ous. 
But Lor ! how she larrupped 'em — she has a cruel heart — hasn't she, 

Bob ? Bob is a cute child, Mr. R . Just as I was a thinking or 

turning her out neck an' crop, a gemman what lodges aloft, wot be a 

laryer, and wot had just saved my nick, Mr. B , by proving a 

h-alibi, said, ' That's a tidy body, your Peg ! ' (for you see he was 
often a wisiting here, an' h-indeed, sin' thin he has taken our third 
floor, No. 9) 'Ive bin a speakin' to her, and I find she has been a nus 
to the sick. I has a frind wots a h-unele that's ill, can you spare her, 
Bill, to attind him ? ' ' That I can,' says I, ' anything to obleedge.' So 
Peg packs off— bag and baggidge." 

"And what was the sick gentleman's name ? " asked Mr. B.'s com- 
panion. 

" It was one Mr. Warney — a painter, wot lived at Clap'am. Since 
thin I've lost sight of Peg : for we had 'igh words about the childern, 
— and she's a spiteful 'oman. But you can larn where she be at Mr. 
Warney's— if so be he's still above ground." 

" And did this woman still go by the name of Joplin ? " 

Bill grinned : " She warn't such a spooney as that — that name was 

in your black books too much, Mr. B , for a 'spectable nuss for 

sick bodies ; no, she was then called Martha Skeggs, what was her 
own mother's name afore marriage. Anything more, gemmen ? " 

" I am satisfied," said the younger visitor, rising; "there is the 

purse, and Mr. R will bring you ten sovereigns in addition. 

Good-day to you." 

Bill, with superabundant bows and flourishes, showed his visitors 
out, and then, rn high glee, he began to romp with his children ; and 
the whole family circle was in a state of uproarious enjoyment when 
the door flew open, and in entered Grabman, his brief-bag in hand, 
dust-soiled, and unshaven. 

" Aha, neighbour ! your servant — your servant, — just oome back ! — 
always so merry — for the life of me, I could'nt help looking in ! Dear 
me, Bill ! why, you're in luck ! " and Mr. Grabmnn pointed to a pile 
of sovereigns which Bill had emptied from the purse to count over, 
and weigh on the tip of his forefinger. 

" Yes," said But sweeping the gold into his corderoy pocket ; 
" and who do you think brought me these shiners ? Why, who but 
old PeglpVj the 'oman wot you put out at Clap'am." 

" Well, never mind Peggy, now, Bill ; I want to ask you what you 
have done with Margaret Joplin — whom, sly seducer that you are, 
you carried off from " 

" Why, man, Peggy be Joplin, and Joplin be Peggy !— and it's for 
what piece of noos that I got all them pretty new picters of his 
majesty, Bill — my namesaake, God bliss 'im ! " 

" D n," exclairrad Grabman, aghast — "the young chap's spoii- 

T 2 



WCK&T1A. 



ing my game again ! " And seizing up his brief-bag, he darted out of 
the house in the hope to arrive, at least, at Clapham before his com- 
petitors. 



CHAPTER XXI. 



BECK S DISCOVERT. 



Under the cedar trees, at Laughton, sat that accursed and ab- 
horrent being, who sat there young, impassioned, hopeful, as Lucretia 
Clavering — under_ the old cedar trees, which, save that their vast 
branches cast an imperceptibly broader shade over the mossy sward, 
the irrevocable winters had left the same. Where, through the nether 
boughs, the autumn sunbeams came aslant, the windows, enriched by 
many a haughty scutcheon, shone brightly against the western rays. 
Prom the flower-beds in the quaint garden near at hand, the fresh yet 
tranquil air wafted faint perfumes from the lingering heliotrope and 
fading rose. The peacock perched dozingly on the heavy balustrade ; 
the blithe robin hopped busily along the sun-track on the lawn ; in 
the distance the tinkling bells of the flock, the plaining low of some 
wandering heifer, while, breaking the silence, seemed still to blend 
with the repose. All images around lent themselves to complete that 

Eicture of stately calm, which is the character of those old mansion, 
ouses, which owner after owner has loved, and heeded, — leaving to 
them the graces of antiquity, guarding them from the desolation ot 
decay. 

Alone sat Lucretia, under the cedar trees, and her heart made 
dismal contrast to the noble tranquillity that breathed around. Prom 
whatever softening or repentant emotions which the scene of her 
youth might first have awakened — from whatever of less unholy 
anguish which memory might have caused, when she first, once more, 
sat under those remembered boughs, and, as a voice from a former 
world, some faint whisper of youthful love sighed _ across the waste 
and ashes of her devastated soul, — from all such rekindled humanities 
in the past she had now, with gloomy power, wrenched herself away. 
Crime, such as hers, admits not long the sentiment that softens the 
remorse of gentler error. If there wakes one moment from the past 
the warning and melancholy ghost, soon from that abyss rises the 
Eury with the lifted scourge, and hunts on the frantic footsteps to- 
wards the future. In the future, the haggard intellect of crime must 
live ; must involve itself mechanically in webs and meshes, and lose 
past and present in the welcome atmosphere of darkness. 

Thus, while Lucretia sat, and her eyes rested upon the halls of her 
youth, her mind overleapt the gulf that yet yawned between her and 
the object on which she was bent. Already, in fancy, that home was 
hers again ; — its present possessor swept away, the interloping race 
of Vernon, ending in one of those abrupt lines familiar to genealogists, 
which branch out busily from the main tree, as if all pith and sap were 



UJCIUSTIA. 209 

monopolised by them, continue for a single generation, and then 
shrink into a printer's bracket, with the formal laconism, ' Died with- 
out issue.' Back, then, in the pedigree would turn the eye of some 
curious descendant, and see the race continue in the posterity of 
Lucretia Clavering. 

With all her ineffable vices, mere cupidity had not, as we have 
often seen, been a main characteristic of this fearful woman; and in 
her design to endow, by the most determined guilt, her son with the 
heritage of her ancestors, she had hitherto looked but little to mere 
mercenary advantages for herself; but now, in the sight of that 
venerable and broad domain, a covetousness, absolute in itself, broke 
forth. Could she have gained it for her own use, rather than her 
son's, she would have felt a greater zest in her ruthless purpose. 
She looked upon the scene as a deposed monarch upon his usurped 
realm; it was her right. The early sense of possession in that 
inheritance returned to her. Reluctantly would she even yield her 
claims to her child. Here, too, in this atmosphere she tasted once 
more what had long been lost to her — the luxury of that dignified 
respect which surrounds the well-born. Here, she ceased to he the 
suspected adventuress, the friendless outcast, the needy wrestler with 
hostile fortune, the skulking enemy of the law. She rose at once, 
and without effort, to her original state — the honoured daughter of 
an illustrious house. The homeliest welcome that greeted her from 
some aged but unforgotten villager, the salutation of homage, the 
bated breath of humble reverence — even trifles like these were dear 
to her, and made her the more resolute to retain them. In her calm, 
relentless onward vision, she saw herself enshrined in those halls, 
ruling in the delegated authority of her son, safe evermore from 
prving suspicion and degrading need, and miserable guilt for miser- 
able objects. Here, but one great crime, and she resumed the majesty 
of her youth! While thus dwelling on the future, her eye did not 
even turn from those sunlit towers to the forms below, and more 
immediately inviting its survey. On the very spot where, at the 
opening of this tale, sat Sir Miles St. John, sharing his attention be- 
tween his dogs and his guest, — sat now Helen Mamwaring ; against 
the balustrade, where had lounged Charles Vernon, leant Percival 
St. John; and in the same place where he had stationed himself that 
eventful evening, to distort, in his malignant sketch, the features of 
his father, Gabriel Vamey, with almost the same smile of irony on his 
lips, was engaged in transferring to his canvas a more faithful like- 
ness of the heir's intended bride. Helen's countenance, indeed, 
exhibited comparatively but little of the ravages which the pernicious 
aliment, administered so noiselessly, made upon the frame. The girl's 
eye, it is true, had sunk, and there was a languid heaviness in its 
look ; but the contour of the cheek was so naturally rounded, and the 
features so delicately fine, that the fall of the muscles was less evi- 
dent ; and the bright warm hue of the col iplexion, and the pearly 
sparkle of the teeth, still gave a fallacious freshness to the aspect. 
But, as yet, the poisoners had forborne those ingredients which invade 
the springs of Efe, resorting only to such as undermine the health, 
9iid prepare the way to unsuspected graves. Out of the infernal 



270 JrfTCBETIA. 

variety of the materials at their command, they had selected a mix 
ture which works by sustaining perpetual lever ! which gives little 
pain, little suffering, beyond that of lassitude and thirst; which 
wastes like consumption, and yet puzzles the physician, by betraying 
few or none of its ordinary symptoms. But the disorder, as yet, was 
not incurable — its progress would gradually cease with the discon- 
tinuance of the venom. 

Although. October was far advanced, the day was as mild and warm 
as August. But Percival, who had been watching Helen's coun- 
tenance, with the anxiety of love and fear, now proposed that the 
sitting should be adjourned. The sun was declining, a,nd it was cer- 
tainly no longer safe for Helen to be exposed to tne air without 
exercise. He proposed that they should walk through the garden, 
and Helen, rising cheerfully, placed her hand on his arm. But she 
had scarcely descended the steps of the terrace when she stopped 
short, and breathed hard and painfully. The spasm was soon over, 
and walking slowly on, they passed Lucretia with a brief word or two, 
and were soon out of sight amongst the cedars. 

" Lean more on my arm, Helen," said Percival. " How strange it 
is, that the change of air has done so little for you, and our country 
doctor still less ! I should feel miserable, indeed, if Simmons, whom 
my mother always considered very clever, did not assure me that there 
was no ground for alarm — that these symptoms were only nervous. 
Cheer up, Helen — sweet love, cheer up ! " 

Helen raised her face, and strove to smile, but the tears stood 
in her eyes : " It would be hard to die now, Percival ! " she said, 
falteringly. 

" To die— oh, Helen ! No ; we must not stay here longer — the 
air is certainly too keen for you. Perhaps your aunt will go to 
Italy — why not all go there, and seek my mother? And she will 

nurse you, Helen, — and — and " He could not trust his voice 

farther. 

Helen pressed his arm tenderly : " Porgive me, dear Percival — it is 
but at moments that I feel so despondent — now, again, it is past. Ah, 
I so long to see your mother ! when will you hear from her ? Are 
you not too sanguine ? — do you really feel sure she will consent to so 
lowly a choice ? " 

" Never doubt her affection — her appreciation of you," answered 
Percival, gladly, and hoping that Helen's natural anxiety might be 
the latent cause of her dejected spirits : " often when talking of the 
future, under these very cedars, my mother has said — ' You have no 
cause to marry for ambition — marry only for your happiness.' She 
never had a daughter — in return for all her love, I shall give her that 
blessing." 

Thus talking, the lovers rambled on till the sun-set, and then, 
returning to the house, they found that Varney and Madame Dali- 
bard had preceded them. That evening Helen's spirits rose to their 
natural buoyancy. And Percival's heart was once more set at ease 
by her silvery laugh. 

^ When, at their usual early hour, the rest of the family retired to 
sleep, Percival remained in the drawing-room to write again, and at 



LT3CKETIA. 271 

length, to Lady Mary and Captain Greville. While thus engaged, liis 
valet entered, to say, that Beck, who had been out since the early 
morning, in search of a horse that had strayed from one of the pas- 
tures, had just returned with the animal, who had wandered nearly as 
far as Southampton. 

_ " I am glad to hear it," said Percival, abstractedly, and continuing 
his letter. 

The valet still lingered — Percival looked up in surprise. 

" If you please, sir, you said you particularly wished to see Beck, 
when he came back." 

" I — oh, true ! Tell him to wait. I will speak to him by-and-by — 
you need not sit up for me — let Beck attend to the bell." 

The valet withdrew. Percival continued his lettei and filled page 
after page, and sheet after sheet ; and when at length the letters, not 
containing a tithe of what he wished to convey, were brought to a 
close, he fell into a reverie that lasted till the candles burnt low, and 
the clock from the turret tolled one. Starting up in surprise at the 
lapse of time, Percival then, for the first time, remembered Beck, 
and rang the bell. 

The ci-devant sweeper, in his smart livery, appeared at the door. 

" Beck, my poor fellow, I am ashamed to have kept you waiting so 
long ; but I received a letter this morning which relates to you. Let 
me see, I left it in my study upstairs. Ah — you'll never find the way 
— follow me — I have some questions to put to you." 

" Nothin' agin my carakter, I hopes, your 'onor," said Beek, 
timidly. 

"Oh, no!" 

" Noos of the mattris, then ? " exclaimed Beek, joyfully. 

" Nor that either," answered Percival, laughing, as he lighted the 
chamber candlestick, and followed by Beck, ascended the grand stair- 
case to a small room which, as it adjoined his sleeping apartment, he 
had habitually used as his morning writing-room and study. 

Percival had, indeed, received that day a letter which had occa- 
sioned him much surprise; it was from John Ardworth, and ran 
thus : — 

" My dear Percival, — It seems that you have taken into your ser- 
Tice a young man known only by the name of Beck. Is he now with 
you at Laughton ? If so, pray retain him, and suffer him to be in 
readiness to come to me at a day's notice if wanted, though it is pro- 
bable enough that I may rather come to you. At present, strange as 
it may seem to you, I am detained in London by business connected 
with that important personage. Will you ask him carelessly, as it 
were, in the meanwhile, the following questions : — 

" First : How did he become possessed of a certain child's coral, 
which he left at the house of one Becky Carruthers, in Cole's- 
buildings ? 

" Secondly : Is he aware of any mark on his arm — if so, will he 
describe it ? 

" Thirdly : How long has he known the said Becky Carruthers ? 

" Fourthly : Does he believe her to be honest and truthful P 



£72 MTCRKTIA. 

" Take a memorandum of his answers, and send it to me. I am 
pretty well aware of what they are likely to be ; hut I desire you to 
put the questions, that I may judge ii there be any discrepancy 
between his statement and that of Mrs. Carruthers. I have much to 
tell you, and am eager to receive your kind congratulations upon an 
event that has given me more happiness than the fugitive success of 
my little book. Tenderest regards to Helen ; and, hoping soon to 
see you, ever affectionately yours. 

" P.S. Say not a word of the contents of this letter to Madame 
Dalibard, Helen, or to any one except Beck. Caution him to the 
same discretion. If you can't trust to his silence, send him to 
town." 

When the post brought this letter, Beck was already gone on his 
errand, and after puzzling himself with vague conjectures, Percival's 
mind had been naturally too absorbed with his anxieties for Helen to 
recur much to the subject. 

Now, refreshing his memory with the contents of the letter, he 
drew pen and ink before him, put the questions seriatim, noted down 
the answers as desired, and smiling at Beck's frightened curiosity 
to know who could possibly care about such matters, and feeling 
confident (from that very fright) of his discretion, dismissed the groom 
to his repose. 

Beck had never been in that part of the house before ; and when 
he got into the corridor he became bewildered, and knew not which 
turn to take — the right or the left. He had no candle with him ; 
but the moon came clear through a high and wide skylight ; the 
light, however, gave him no guide. While pausing, much per- 
plexed, and not sure that he should even know again the door of the 
room he had just quitted, if venturing to apply to his young master 
for a clue through such a labyrinth, he was inexpressibly startled and 
appalled by a sudden apparition. A door at one end of the corridor 
opened noiselessly, and a figure, at first scarcely distinguishable, for it 
was robed from head to foot in a black shayaless garb, scarcely giving 
even the outline of the human form, stole forth. Beck rubbed his 
eyes, and crept mechanically close within the recess of one of the 
doors that communicated with the passage. The figure advanced a 
few steps towards him ; and what words can describe his astonish- 
ment, when he beheld thus erect, and in full possession of physical 
power and motion, the palsied cripple whose chair he had often seen 
wheeled into the garden, and whose unhappy state was the common 
topic of comment in the servants' hall. Yes, the moon from above 
shone full upon that face which never, once seen, could be forgotten. 
And it seemed more than mortally stern and pale, contrasted with the 
sable of the strange garb, and beheld by that mournful light. Had a 
ghost, indeed, risen from the dead, it could scarcely have appalled 
him more. Madame Dalibard did not see the involuntary spy ; for 
the recess in which he had crept was on that side of the wall on which 
the moon's shadow was cast. With a quick step she turned into 
another room, opposite that which she had quitted, the door of which 
stood ajar, and vanished noiselessly as she had appeared. 



MTCKETIA. ITA 

Taught suspicion by his earlier acquaintance with the *" night-side'* 
of human nature, Beck had good cause for it here— this detection of 
an imposture most familiar to his experience — that of a pretended 
cripple, — the hour of the night ? — the evil expression on the face of the 
deceitful guest, — Madame Dalibard' s familiar intimacy and near con- 
nection with Varney — Varney, the visitor to Grabman, who received 
no visitors but those who desire not to go to law, but to escape from 
its penalties — Varney, who had dared to brave the Resurrection Man 
in his den, and who seemed so fearlessly at home in abodes where 
nought but poverty could protect the honest,— Varney now, with that 
strange woman, an inmate of a house in which the master was so 
young, so inexperienced, so liable to be duped by his own generous 
nature — all these ideas vaguely combined inspired Beck with as vague 
a terror ; surely something, he knew not what, was about to be perpe- 
trated against his benefactor— some scheme of villany which it was 
his duty to detect. He breathed hard, formed his resolves, and, steal- 
ing on tiptoe, followed the shadowy form of the poisoner through the 
half-opened doorway. The shutters of the room of which he thus 
crossed the threshold were not closed — the iroon shone in bright and 
still. He kept his body behind the door, peeping in with straining 
tearful stare. He saw Madame Dalibard standing beside a bed, round 
which the curtains were closed, standing for a moment or so motion- 
less, as if in the act of listening, with one hand on a table beside the 
bed. He then saw her take from the folds of her dress something 
white and glittering, and pour from it what appeared to him but a 
drop or two, cautiously, slowly, into a phial on the table, from which 
she withdrew the stopper ; that done, she left the phial where she had 
found it, again paused a moment, and turned towards the door. 
Beck retreated hastily to his former hiding-place, and gained it in 
time. Again the shadowy form passed him, and again the white face 
in the white moonlight froze his blood with its fell and horrible expres- 
sion. He remained cowering and shrinking against the wall for some 
time, striving to collect his wits, and considering what he should do. 
His first thought was to go at once and inform St. John of what he 
had witnessed. But the poor have a proverbial dread of deposing 
aught against a superior. Madame Dalibard would deny his tale, — 
the guest would be believed against the menial, — he should be but 
dismissed with ignominy. At that idea, he left Ms hiding-place, and 
crept along the corridor, in the hope of finding some passage at the 
end which might lead to the offices. But when he arrived at the other 
extremity, he was only met by great folding-doors, which evidently 
communicated with the state apartments. He must retrace his steps 
— he did so ; and when he came to the door which Madame Dalibard 
had entered, and which stood ajar, he had recovered some courage, 
and with courage, curiosity seized him. For what purpose could the 
strange woman seek that room at night so feloniously ? — what could 
she have poured, and with such stealthy caution, into the phial ? 
Katurally and suddenly the idea of poison flashed across him. Tales 
of such crime (as, indeed, of all crime) had necessarily often thrilled 
the ear of the vagrant fellow-lodger with burglars and outlaws. But 
poison to whom? Could it be meant for his benefactor? Could 



S7'4 LtTCBETli. 

!St. John sleep in that room ? — why not ? The woman nad sought the 
chamber before her young host had retired to rest, and mingled her 
potion with some medicmal draught. All fear vanished before the 
aotion of danger to his employer. He stole at once through the door- 
way, and noiselessly approached the table on which yet lay the phial. 
His hand closed on it firmly. He resolved to carry it away, and con- 
sider next morning what next to do. At all events, it might contain 
some proof to back histale, and justify his suspicions. When he came 
once more into the corridor, he made a quick rush onwards, and luckily 
amvprd at the staircase. There the blood-red stains reflected on the 
stone floors from the blazoned casements daunted him little less than 
the sight at which his hair still bristled. He scarcely drew breath till 
he had got into his own little crib, in the wing set apart for the stable- 
men, when, at length, he fell into broken and agitated sleep,— the 
visions of all that had successively disturbed him waking, united con- 
fusedly, as in one picture of gloom and terror. He thought that he 
was in his old loft in St. Giles's ; that the Gravestealer was wrestling 
with Varney for his body, while he himself, lying powerless on his 
pallet, fancied he should be safe so long as he could retain, as a talis- 
man, his child's coral, which he clasped to his heart. Suddenly, in 
that black shapeless garb in which he had beheld her, Madame Dali- 
bard bent over him with her stern colourless face, and wrenched from 
liim his charm. Then, ceasing his struggle with his horrible anta- 
gonist, Varney laughed aloud, and the Gravestealer seized him in his 
deadly arms. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

THE TAPESTRY CHAMBER, 

When Beck woke the next morning, and gradually recalled all 
that had so startled and appalled him the previous night— the grate- 
ful creature felt, less by the process of reason than by a brute instinct, 
that in the mysterious resuscitation and nocturnal wanderings of the 
pretended paralytic, some danger menaced his master — he became 
anxious to learn whether it was really St. John's room Madame 
Dalibard stealthily visited. A bright idea struck him— and in the 
course of the day, at an hour when the family were out of doors, he 
contrived to coax the good-natured valet, who had taken him under 
his special protection, to show him over the house. He had heard the 
other servants say there was such a power of fine things, that a peep 
into the rooms was as good as a show, and the valet felt pride in 
being cicerone even to Beck. After having stared sufficiently at the 
banquet-hall and the drawing-room, the armour, the busts, and the 
pictures, and listened, open-mouthed, to his guide's critical observa- 
tions, Beck was led up the great stairs into the old family picture- 
gallery, and into Sir Miles's ancient room at the end, which had been 



LUCEETIA. 275 

left undisturbed, with the bed still in the angle ; on returning thence, 
Beckfound himselfin the corridor which communicated with the 
principal .bedrooms, in which he had lost himself the night before 

" And vot room be that vith the littul vite 'ead h-over the door ? " 
asked Beck, pointing to the chamber from which Madame Dalibard 
had emerged. 

" That white head, Master Beck, is Floorer the goddess ; but a 
heathen like you knows nothing about goddesses. Floorer has a half- 
moon in her hair, you see, which shows that the idolatrous Turks 
worship her, for the Turkish flag is a half -moon, as I have seen at 
Constantinople ! I have travelled, Beck." 

" And vot room be it ? Is it the master's ?" persisted Beck. 

" No, the pretty young lady, Miss Mainwaring, has it at present. 
There is nothing to see in it. But that one, opposite ;" and the valet 
advanced to the door through which Madame Dalibard had disap- 
peared — "that is curious; and as Madame is out, we may just take a 
peep." He opened the door gently, and Beck looked in. "This, 
which is called the turret-chamber, was Madame's when she was a 
girl, I have heard old Bessy say; so master pops her there now. 
For my part, Fd rather sleep in your little crib, than have those great 
gruff -looking figures staring at me by the firelight, and shaking their 
heads with every wind on a winter's night." And the valet took a 
pinch of snuff, as he drew Beck's attention to the faded tapestry on 
the walls. As they spoke, the draught between the door and the 
window caused the gloomy arras to wave with a life-like motion ; and 
to those more superstitious than romantic, the chamber had certainly 
no inviting aspect. 

" I never sees these old tapestry rooms," said the valet, " without 
thinking of the story of the lady who, coming from a ball and taking 
off her jewels, happened to look up, and saw an eye in one of the figures 
which she felt sure was no peeper in worsted." 

" Vot vos it, then ? " asked Beck, timidly lifting up the hangings, 
and noticing that there was a considerable space between them and 
the wall, which was filled up in part by closets and wardrobes set 
into the wall, with intervals more than deep enough for the hiding- 
place of a man. 

" Why," answered the valet, "it was a thief. He had come for the 
jewels • but the lady had the presence of mind to say aloud, as if to 
herself, that she had forgotten something, slipped out of the room, 
locked the door, called up the servants, and the thief — who was no 
less a person than the under-butler — was nabbed." 

" And the French 'oman sleeps 'ere ?" said Beck, musingly. 

" French 'oman ! Master Beck, nothing's so vulgar as these nick- 
names, in a first-rate sitivation. It is all very well when one lives 
with skinflints ; but with such a master as our'n, respect's the go,. 
Besides, Madame is not a French 'oman ; she is one of the family— 
and as old a familyit is too, as e'er a lord's in the three kingdoms. 
But come, your curiosity is satisfied now, and you must trot back to 
your horses." 

As Beck returned to the stables, his mind yet more misgave him as 
to the criminal designs of his master's visitor. It was from Helea's 



876 LTJCKETIA. 

room that the false cripple had walked, and the ill health of the poor 
young lady was a general subject of compassionate comment. But 
Madame Dalibard was Helen's relation — from what motive could she 
harbour an evil thought against her own niece ? But still, if those 
drops were poured, into the healing draught for good — why so 
secretly ? Once more he revolved the idea of speaking to St. John — 
an accident dissuaded him from this intention ; the only proof to back 
his tale was the mysterious phial he had carried away ; but unluckily, 
forgetting that it was in his pocket — at a time when he flung off his 
coat to groom one of the horses, the bottle struck against the corn- 
ibin and broke— all the contents were spilt. This incident made him 
suspend his intention, and wait till he could obtain some fresh 
evidence of evil intentions. The day passed without any other 
noticeable occurrence. The doctor called, found Helen somewhat 
better, and ascribed it to his medicines, especially to the effect of his 
tonic draught the first thing in the morning. Helen smiled—" Nay, 
doctor," said she, " this morning, at least, it was forgotten. I did not 
find it by my bedside. Don't tell my aunt, she would be so angry." 
The doctor looked rather discomposed. 

"Well," said he, soon recovering his good humour, " since you are 
certainly better to-day without the draught, discontinue it also to- 
morrow. I will make an alteration for the day after " So that 

night Madame Dalibard visited in vain her niece's chamber— Helen 
had a reprieve. 



CHAPTER XXIH. 

THE SHADES ON THE DIAL. 

The following morning was indeed eventful to the family at 
Laughton; and, as if conscious of what it brought forth, it rose 
dreary and sunless : one heavy mist covered all the landscape, and a 
raw drizzling rain fell pattering through the yellow leaves. 

Madame Dalibard, pleading her infirmities, rarely left her room 
before noon, and Varney professed himself very irregular in his 
hours of rising; the breakfast, therefore, afforded no social 
assembly to the family, but each took that meal in the solitude of his 
or her own chamber. Percival, in whom all habits partook of the 
healthfulness and simplicity of his character, rose habitually early; 
and that day, in spite of the weather, walked forth betimes to meet 
the person charged with the letters from the post. He had done 
so for the last three or four days, impatient to hear from his 
mother, and calculating that it was full time to receive the ex- 
pected answer to his confession and his prayer. He met the 
messenger at the bottom of the park, not far from Guy's Oak. 
This day J>« was not disajjcointed. The letter-tag contained three 



T.UCRETIA. 27? 

letters far himself, two with the foreign post-mark — the third hi 
Ardworth's hand. It contained also a letter foi Madame Dalibard, 
and two for Varney. 

_ Leaving tne messenger to take these last to the hall, Percival, with 
his own prizes, plunged into the hollow of the glen before him, and, 
seating himself at the foot of Guy's Oak, through the vast branches 
of which the rain scarcely came, and only in single, mournful drops 
he opened first the letter in his mother's hand, and read as *ol 
lows : — 

" My dear, dear Son, — How can I express to you the alarm your 
letter has given to me ! So these, then, are the new relations you 
have discovered ! I fondly imagined that you were alluding to some 
of my own family, and conjecturing who amongst my many cousins 
could have so captivated your attention. These the new relations ! 
Lucretia Dalibard — Helen Mainwaring ! Percival, do you not know 

No, you cannot know— that Helen Mainwaring is the daughter 

of a disgraced man— of one who (more than suspected of fraud in the 
bank in which he was a partner) left his country, condemned even by 

his own father. If you doubt this, you have but to inquire at , 

not ten miles from Laughton, where the elder Mainwaring resided. 
Ask there, what became of William Mainwaring ? And Lucretia, — 
you do not know that the dying prayer of her uncle, Sir Miles St. 
»Tohn, was that she might never enter the house he bequeathed to 
your father. Not till after my poor Charles's death did I know the 
exact cause for Sir Miles's displeasure, though confident it was just ; 
but then amongst his papers I found the ungrateful letter which 
betrayed thoughts so dark, and passions so unwomanly, that I blushed 
for my sex to read it. Could it be possible that that poor old man's 
prayers were unheeded— that that treacherous step could ever cross 
your threshold — that that cruel eye, which read with such barbarous 
joy the ravages of death on a benefactor's face, could rest on the 
bearth, by which your frank, truthful countenance has so often smiled 
away my tears, I should feel indeed, as if a thunder-cloud hungover 
the roof. — No ! if you marry the niece ? the aunt must be banished 
from your house. — Good Heavens !* and it is the daughter of William 
Mainwaring, the niece and ward of Lucretia Dalibard, to whom you 
have given your faithful affection — whom you single from the world 
as your wife ! Oh ! my son — my beloved— my sole surviving child- 
do not think that I blame you, that my heart does not bleed while 
I write thus ; but I implore you on my knees to pause at least, — 
to suspend this intercourse, till I myself can reach England. And 
what then? Why, then, Percival, I promise, on my part, that I 
will see your Helen with unprejudiced eyes — that I will put away 
from me, as far as possible, all visions of disappointed pride — the 
remembrance of faults not her own ; and if she be as you say and 
think, I will take her to my heart and call her ' Daughter.' Are you 
satisfied? If so, come to me — come at once, and taue comfort 
from your mother's lips. How I long to be with you while you 
read this— how I tremble at the pain I so rudely give you! But 
my poor sister still chains m r ' here, I dare not leave her, lest I 



873 LtJCREIIA. 

should lose her sigh. Come then, come, we will console each 
other. 
" Your fond (how fond !) and sorrowing mother, 

" Mary St. John. 

'< October 3rd, 1831. 

'* Sorrento. 

" P.S. You see by this address that we have left Pisa for this plice^, 
recommended by our physician ; hence an unhappy delay of some 
days in my reply. Ah, Percival, how sleepless will be my pillow till 
I hear from you!" 

Long, very long, was it before St. John, mute and overwhelmed 
with the sudden shock of his anguish, opened his other letters — the 
first was from Captain Greville : — 

" What trap have you fallen into, foolish boy ? That you would 
get into some silly scrape or another was natural enough. But a 
scrape for life, Sir — that is serious! But, God bless you for your 
candour, my Percival — you have written to us in time — you are old- 
feshioned enough to think that a mother's_ consent is necessary to a 
young man's union. And you have left it in our' power to save you 
yet ; it is notevery boyish fancy that proves to be true love. But' 
enough of this preaching ; I shall do better than write scolding let- 
ters, I shall come and scold you in person. My servant is at this 
very moment packing my portmanteau, the laquais-de-place is gone 
to Naples for my passport. Almost as soon as you receive this I 
shall be with you ; and if I am a day or two later than the mail, be 
patient : do not commit yourself further. Break your heart if you 
please, but- don't implicate your honour. I shall come at once to 
Curzon-street. Adieu ! 

"H. Greville." 

Ardsworth's letter was shorter than the others : fortunately so, for 
otherwise it had been unread : — 

" If I ao not come to you myself the day after you receive this, 
dear Percival, which, indeed, is most probable, I shall send you my 
proxy, rn one whom, for my sake, I know that you will kindly welcome. 
He will undertake my task, and clear up all the mysteries with which, 
I trust, my correspondence has thoroughly bewildered your lively 
imagination. — Yours, ever, 

" John Ardwortd. 

" Gray's Inn." 

Little, indeed, did Percival's imagination busy itself with the mys- 
teries of Ardworth's correspondence. His mind scarcely took in the 
sense of the words, over which his eye mechanically wandered. 

And the letter which narrated the visit of Madame Dahbard to the 
house thus solemnly interdicted to her step, was on its way to his 
mother ; nay, by this time would almost have reached her. Greville 
was on the road ; nay, as his tutor's letter had been forwarded from 
London — might, perhaps, be in Curzon-street that day. How de- 



LUCUETIA. 279 

rable to see him before he could reach Laughton, to prepare hiin for 
[adame Dalibard' s visit ; for Helen's illness ; explain the position in 
r hich he was involved, and conciliate the old soldier's rough, kind 
eart to his love and his distress ! 

He did not dread the meeting with Greville — he yearned for it. 
[e needed an adviser, a confidant, a friend. To dismiss abruptly his 
uests from his house — impossible ! to abandon Helen because of her 
ither's crime, or her aunt s fault (whatever that last might be — and 
o clear detail of it was given), that never entered his thoughts ! 
'ure and unsullied, the starry face of Helen shone the holier for the 
loud around it. An inexpressible and chivalrous compassion mingled 
rith his love and confirmed his faith. She, poor chid, to suffer for 
lie deeds of others ! No. What availed his power as man, and dig- 
ity as gentleman, if they could not wrap in their own shelter the one 
y whom such shelter was now doubly needed ?_ Thus, amidst all 
is emotions — firm and resolved, at least on one point — and beginning 
Iready to recover the hope of his sanguine nature, from his reliance 
n bis mother's love, on the promises that softened her disclosures 
nd warnings, and on his conviction that Helen had only to be seen 
ar every scruple to give way, Percival wandered back towards the 
ouse, and, coming abruptly on the terrace, he encountered Varney, 
rho was leaning motionless against the balustrades, with an open 
;tter in his hand. Varney was deadly pale, and there was the trace 
f some recent and gloomy agitation in the relaxed muscles of his 
heeks, usually so firmly rounded. But Percival did not heed his 
ppearance as he took him gravely by the arm, and leading him into 
he garden, said, after a painful pause — 

"Varney, 1 am about to ask you two questions, which your close 
onnexion with Madame Dalibard may enable you to answer ; but in 
rhich, from obvious motives, I must demand the strictest confidence. 
Tou will not hint to her or to Helen what I am about to say ?" 

Vamey stared uneasily on Percival's serious countenance, and gave 
he promise required. 

"First, then, for what offence was Madame Dalibard expelled her 
incle's house — this house of Laughton ? 

" Secondly, what is the crime with which Mr. Mainwaring, Helen's 
ather, is charged?" 

" With regard to the first," said Varney, recovering his composure, 
'I thought I had already told you that Sir Miles was a proud man, 
rndthat, in consequence of discovering a girlish flirtation between his 
liece Lucretia (now Madame Dalibard) and Mainwaring, who after- 
vards jilted her for Helen's motherjie altered his will — expelled her 
lis house,' is too harsh a phrase. This is all I know. With regard 
a the second question, no crime was ever brought home to William 
tfainwaring. He was suspected of dealing improperly with the 
unds of the bank, and he repaid the alleged deficit by the sacrifice of 
ill he_possessed." 

" This is the truth !" exclaimed Percival, joyfully. 

"The plain truth, I believe; but why these questions at this 
noment r Ah, you too, I see, have had letters — I understand ! Lady 
Mary gives these reasons for withholding her consent." 



B80 MCKKT1A. 

" Her consent is not withheld," answered Percival ; " but. shall I 
own it ? — remember, I have your promise not to wound and offend 
Madame Dalibard by the disclosure : my mother does refer to the 
subjects I have alluded to, and Captain Greville, my old friend and 
tutor, is on his way to England — perhaps to-morrow he may arrive at 
Laughton." 

"Ha!" said Varney, startled — "to-morrow! — and what sort of a 
man is this Captain Greville?" 

" The best man possible for such a case as mine — kind-hearted, yet 
cool, sagacious, the finest observer, the quickest judge of character — 
nothing escapes him. Oh, one interview will suffice to show him all 
Helen's innocent and matchless excellence !" 

" To-morrow ! this man comes to-morrow ! " 

" All that I fear is— for he is rather rough and blunt in his manner, 
— all that I fear is, his first surprise — and, dare I say, displeasure, at 
seeing this poor Madame Dalibard, whose faults, I fear, were graver 
than you suppose, at the house from which her uncle — to whom, 
indeed, I owe this inheritance " 

"I see— I see!" interrupted Varney, quickly. "And Madame 
Dalibard is the most susceptible of women — so well-born, and so poor, 
so gifted, and so helpless — it is natural. Can you not write, and put 
off this Captain Greville for a few days ? — until, indeed, I can find 
some excuse for terminating our visit." 

" But my letter may be hardly in time to reach him ; he may be in 
town to-day." 

" Go then to town at once ; you can be back late at night, or at 
least to-morrow. Anything better than wounding the pride of a 
woman, on whom, after all, you must depend for free and open inter 
course with Helen." 

" That is exactly what I thought of; but what excuse?- " 

" Excuse ! — a thousand ! Every man coming of age into such a 
property has business with his lawyers ; or why not say simply thai 
you want to meet a friend of yours, who has just left your mother hi 
Italy ?— in short, any excuse suffices, and none can be offensive." 

" I will order my carriage instantly." 

" Right !" exclaimed Varney; and his eye followed the receding 
form of Percival with a mixture of fierce exultation and anxious fear 
Then turning towards the window of the turret-chamber, in which 
Madame Dalibard reposed, and seeing it still closed, he muttered ar 
impatient oath ; but even while he did so, the shutters were slowl) 
opened, and a footman, stepping from the porch, approached Varnej 
with a message, that Madame Dalibard would see him in five minuteSj 
if he would then have the goodness to ascend to her room. 

Before that time was well expired, Varney was in the chamber 
Madame Dalibard was up and in her chair : and the unwonted joy which 
her countenance evinced was in strong contrast with the sombre 
shade upon her son-in-law's brow, and the nervous quiver of his lip. 

" Gabriel," she said, as he drew near to her, "my son is found !" 

" I know it," he answered petulantly. 

" You ! — from whom ?" 

" From Grabman." 



UJCRE-Iia. 281 

" And I from, a still better authority — from Walter Ardworth him- 
self.! He lives; he -will restore my child!" She extended a letter 
while she spoke. He, in return, gave her, not that still crumpled in 
his hand, but one which he drew from his breast. These letters 
severally occupied both, begun and finished almost in the same 
moment. 

That from Grabman ran thus : — 

" Dear Jason— Toss up your hat, and cry hip-hip ! At last, from 
person to person, I have tracked the lost Vincent Braddell. He lives 
still ! We can maintain his identity in any court of law. Scarce in 
time for the post, I have not a moment for further particulars. - I 
shall employ the next two days in reducing all the evidence to a 
regular digest, which I will despatch to you. Meanwhile, prepare, as 
soon as may be, to put me in possession of my fee, — £5,000, and my 
expedition merits something more. — Yours, 

"Nicholas Grabman." 

The letter from Ardworth was no less positive :— 

" Madam,— In obedience to the commands of a dying friend, I took 
charge of his infant, and concealed its existence from his mother — 
yourself. On returning to England, I need not say that I was not 
unmindful of my trust. Your son lives : and, after mature reflection, 
I have resolved to restore him to your arms. In this I have been 
decided by what I have heard from one whom I can trust, of your 
altered habits, your decorous life, your melancholy infirmities, and the 
generous protection you have given to the orphan of my poor cousin 
Susan, my old friend Mainwarmg. Alfred Braddell himself, if it be 
permitted to him to look down and read my motives, will pardon me, 
I venture to feel assured, this departure from his injunctions. What- 
ever the faults which displeased him, they have been amply chastised. 
And your son, grown to man, can no longer be endangered by 
example, in tending the couch, or soothing the repentance, of his 
mother. 

_ " These words are severe ; but you will pardon them in him who 
gives you back your child. I shall venture to wait on you in person, 
with such proofs as may satisfy you as to the identity of your son. 1 
count on arriving at Laughton to-morrow. Meanwhile, I simply sign 
myself by a name, in which you will recognise the kinsman to one 
branch of your family, and the friend of your dead husband, 

"J. Walter Ardworth. 

" Craven Hotel, October, 1831." 

" Well ! and are you not rejoiced ! " said Lucretia, gazing surprised 
on Varney's sullen and unsympathising face. 

"No ! because time presses : I (-cause, even while discovering your 
son, you may fail in securing his heritage ; because, in the midst of 
your triumph, I see Newgate opening to myself ! Look you, I too 
have had my news — less pleasing than yours. This Stubmore (curse 
Uiai !) writes me word, that he shall certainly be in town next month 



282 LUCRETIA. 

at farthest, and that lie meditates, immediately on his arrival, trans- 
ferring the legacy from the Bank of England to an excellent mortgage 
of which he has heard. Were it not for this scheme of ours, nothing 
would be left for me but flight and exile." 

"A month ! — that is a long time. Do you think, now that my son 
is found, and that son one like John Ardworth (for there can be no 
doubt that my surmise was right), with genius to make station the 
pedestal to the power I dreamed, of in my youth, but which my sex 
forbade me to attain — do you think I will keep him a month from his 
inheritance ? Before the month is out, yon shall replace what you 
have taken, and buy your trustee's silence, if need be — either from 
the sums you have insured, or from the rents of Laughton." 

"Lucretia!" said Varney, whose fresh colours had grown livid — 
" what is to be done must be done at once ! Percival St. John has 
heard from his mother. Attend ! " And Varney rapidly related the 
questions St. John had put to him, the dreaded arrival of Captain 
Greville, the danger of so keen an observer — the necessity, at all 
events, of abridging their visit — the urgency of hastening the catas- 
trophe to its close. 

Lucretia listened in ominous and steadfast silence. 

" But," she said, at last, " you have persuaded St. John to give this 
man the meeting in London — to put off his visit for the time ! St. John 
will return to us to-morrow. Well ; and if he finds his Helen isno 
more ! Two nights ago, I, for the first time, mingled in the morning 
draught that which has no antidote and no cure. This night two 
drops more, and St. John will return to find that Death is in the 
house before him. And then for himself — the sole remaining barrier 
between my son and this inheritance, for himself — why, grief some- 
times kills suddenly ; and there be drugs whose effect simulates the 
death-stroke of grief." 

"Yet, yet, this rapidity, if necessary, is perilous. Nothing in 
Helen's state forebodes sudden death by natural means. The strange- 
ness of two deaths — both so young — Greville in England, if not here 
— hastening down to examine, to inquire, with such prepossessions 
against you: — there must be an inquest !" 

" Well, and what can be discovered ? It was I who shrunk before 
— it is I who now urge despatch. I feel as in my proper home in these 
halls. I would not leave them again but to my grave ! I stand on 
the hearth of my youth. I fight for my rights and my son's. Perish 
those who oppose me !" 

A fell energy and power were in the aspect of the murderess as she 
thus spoke ; and while her determination awed the inferior villany of 
Varney, it served somewhat to mitigate his fears. 

As in more detail they began to arrange their execrable plans, 
Percival, while the horses were being harnessed to take him to the 
nearest post-town, sought Helen, and found her in the little chamber 
which he had described and appropriated as her own, when his fond 
fancy had sketched the fair outline of the future. 

This room had been originally fitted up for the private devotions of 
the Roman Catholic wife of an ancestor, in the reign of Charles II. ; and 
m. a recess, half-veiled by a curtain, there still stood that holy symbol, 



MJCIIETja. 2S3 

which, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, no one sincerely pene- 
trated with the solemn pathos of sacred history can behold unmoved 
— the Cross of the Divine Agony. Before this holy symbol, Helen stood 
in earnest reverence. She did not kneel (for the forms of the religion 
in which she had been reared were opposed to that posture of worship 
before the graven image), but you could see iu that countenance, 
eloquent at once with the enthusiasm and the meekness of piety, that 
the soul was filled with the memories and the hopes, which, age after 
age, have consoled the sufferer, and inspired the martyr. The soul 
knelt to the idea, if the knee bowed not to the image, embracing the 
tender grandeur of the sacrifice, and the vast inheritance opened to 
faith in the redemption. 

The young man held his breath while he gazed. He was moved, 
and he was awed. Slowly Helen turned towards him, and, smiling 
sweetly, held out to him her hand. They seated themselves in silence 
in the depth of the overhanging casement ; and the mournful character 
of the scene without, where, dimly through the misty rains, gloomed 
the dark foliage of the cedars, made them insensibly draw closer to 
each other, in the instinct of love when the world frowns around it. 
Percival wanted the courage to say that he had come to take farewell, 
though but for a day, and Helen spoke first. 

" I cannot guess why it is, Percival, but I am startled at the change 
I feel in myself— no, not in health, dear Percival, I mean in mind — 
during the last few months,— since, indeed, we have known each other. 
I remember so well the morning in which my aunt's letter arrived at 
the dear vicarage. We were returning from the village fair, and my 
good guardian was smiling at my notions of the world. I was then 
so giddy, and light, and thoughtless, — everything presented itself to 
me in such gay colours, — I scarcely believed in sorrow. And now I 
feel as if I were awakened to a truer sense of nature — of the ends of 
our being here ; I seem to know that life is a grave and solemn thing. 
Yet I am not less happy, Percival. No, I think rather that I knew 
not true happiness till I knew you. 1 have read somewhere that the 
slave is gay in his holiday from toil ; if you free him, if you educate 
him, the gaiety vanishes, and he cares no more for the dance under 
the palm-tree. But is he less happy ? So it is with me ! " 

" My sweet Helen, I would rather have one gay smile of old — the arch, 
careless laugh which came so naturally from those rosy lips, than hear 
you talk of happiness with that quiver in your voice — those tears in 
your eyes." 

" Yet gaiety," said Helen, thoughtfully, and in the strain of her 
pure, truthful purity of soul, " is only the light impression of the 
present moment — the play of the mere spirits ; and happiness seems 
a forethought of the future, spreading on, far and broad, over all time 
and space." 

" And you live, then, in the future, at last ? — you have no misgivings 
now, my Helen ? Well, that comforts me ! Say it, Helen— say tho 
future will be ours ! " 

" It will— it will— for ever and for ever," said Helen, earnestly; and 
her eyes involuntarily rested on the Cross. 

In his younger spirit, and less imaginative nature, Percival did not 



2S1 LUCKEl'JA. 

comprehend tne aepth of sadness implied in Helen's answer ; taking 
it literally, he felt as if a load were lilted, from his heart ; and kissing 
with rapture the hand he held, he exclaimed — " Yes, this shall soon 
— oh, soon be mine ! I fear nothing while you hope. You cannot 
guess how those words have cheered me; for I am leaving you, 
though but for a few hours, and I shall repeat those words — for they 
will ring in my ear, in my heart, till we meet again." 

" Leaving me ! " said Helen, turning pale, and her clasp on his hand 
tightening. Poor child ! she felt mysteriously a sentiment of protec- 
tion in his presence. 

"But at most for a day. My old tutor, of whom we have so often 
conversed, is on Ms way to England — perhaps even now in London. 
He has some wrong impressions against your aunt — his manner is 
blunt and rough. It is necessary that I should see him before he 
comes hither — you know how susceptible is your aunt's pride — just to 
prepare him for meeting her — you understand ? " 

What impressions against my aunt ? Does he even know her ? " 
asked Helen ; and if such a sentiment as suspicion could cross that 
candid innocence of mind, — that sentiment towards this stern relation 
whose arms had never embraced her, — whose lips had never spoken 
of the past, — whose history was as a sealed volume, disturbed and 
disquieted her. 

" It is because he has never known her that he does her wrong. 
Some old story of her indiscretion as a girl — of her uncle's displeasure 
—what matters now?" said Percival, shrinking sensitively from one 
disclosure that might wound Helen in her kinswoman. "Meanwhile, 
dearest, you will be prudent — you will avoid this damp air, and keep 
quietly at home, ancf amuse yourself, sweet fancier of the future, in 
planning how to improve these old halls, when they and their un- 
worthy master are your own. God bless you ! — God guard you. 
Helen!" 

He rose, and with that loyal chivalry of love which felt respect the 
more for the careless guardianship to which his Helen was entrusted, 
he refrained from that parting kiss which their pure courtship war- 
ranted — for which his lip yearned. But as he lingered, an irresistible 
impulse moved Helen's heart. Mechanically she opened her arms, 
and her head sunk upon Iris shoulder. In that embrace they remained 
some moments silent, and an angel might unreprovingly have heard 
their hearts beat through the stillness. 

At length, Percival tore himself from those arms which relaxed 
their imploring hold reluctantly ; she heard his hurried step descend 
the stairs, and in a moment more the roll of the wheels in the court 
without ; a dreary sense as of some utter desertion, some everlasting 
bereavement, chilled and appalled her. She stood motionless, as if 
turned to stone, on the floor ; suddenly the touch of something warm 
on her hand — a plaining whine, awoke her attention ; Percival's 
favourite dog missed his master, and had slunk for refuge to her. The 
dread sentiment of loneliness vanished in that humble companionship • 
and seating herself on the ground, she took the dog in her arms, and 
bending over it, wept in silence. 



LDCEF.TIA 885 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



SIVKDER, TOWARDS HIS DESIGN, MOVES LIKE A GHOST. 

The reader will, doubtless, have observed the consummate art with 
which the poisoner had hitherto advanced upon her prey. The design 
conceived from afar, and executed with elaborate stealth, defied every 
chance of detection, against which the ingenuity of practised viUany 
could guard. Grant even that the deadly drags should betray the 
nature of the death they inflicted, that by some unconjectured secret 
in the science of chemistry, the presence of those vegetable compounds 
which had hitherto baffled every known and positive test, in the post- 
humous examination of the most experienced surgeons, should be 
clearly ascertained, not one suspicion seemed likely to fall upon the 
ministrant of death. The medicines were never brought to Madame 
Dalibard, were never given by her hand ; nothing ever tasted by the 
victim could be tracked to her aunt. The helpless condition of the 
cripple, which Lucretia had assumed, forbade all notion even of her 
power of movement. Only in the dead of night, when, as she believed, 
every human eye that could watch her was sealed in sleep, and then 
in those dark habiliments, which (even as might sometimes happen, 
if the victim herself were awake,) a chance ray of light struggling 
through chink or shutter could scarcely distinguish from the general 
gloom, — did she steal to the chamber, and inluse the colourless and 
tasteless liquid * in the morning draught, meant to bring strength 
and healing. Grant that the draught was untouched — that it was 
examined by the surgeon — that the fell admixture could be detected 
— suspicion would wander anywhere rather than to that crippled 
and helpless kinswoman, who could not rise from her bed without 
aid. 

But now this patience was to be abandoned, the folds of the serpent 
were to coil in one fell clasp upon its prey. 

Fiend as Lucretia had become, and hardened as were all her resolves 
by the discovery of her son, and her impatience to endow him with 
her forfeited inheritance she yet shrank from the face of Helen that 
day ; on the excuse of illness, she kept her room, and admitted only 
Varney, who stole in from time to time, with_ creeping step and 
haggard countenance, to sustain her courage or his own. And every 
time he entered, he found Lucretia sitting with Walter Ajdworth's 
open letter in her hand, and turning with a preternatural excitement, 
that seemed almost like aberration of mind, from the grim and horrid 
topic which he invited, to thoughts of wealth, and power, _ ana 
triumph, and exulting prophecies of the fame her son should achieve. 
He looked but on the blackness of the gulf, and shuddered ; hei 

* The celebrated acqua di Tufania (Tufania water) was wholly without taste or 
•olour, 



2SIJ UJCKETIA. 

vision overle&pt it, and smiled on the misty palaces her fancy built 
beyond. 

Late in the evening, before she retired to rest, Helen knocked 
gently at her aunt's door, — a voice quick and startled, bade her enter; 
she came in, with her sweet caressing look, and took Lucretia's hand, 
which struggled from the clasp. Bending over that haggard brow, 
she said, simply, yet to Lucretia's ear the voice seemed that of com- 
mand : " Let me kiss you, this night ! " and her lips pressed that 
brow. The murderess shuddered, and closed her eyes ; when she 
opened them, the angel visitor was gone. 

Night deepened and deepened into those hours from the first of 
which we number the morn, though night still is at her full. _ Moon- 
beam and star -beam came through the casements, shyly, and fairy-like, 
as on that night, when the murderess was young and crimeless — in 
deed, if not in thought — that night, when in the book of Leechcraft, 
she meted out the hours, in which the life of her benefactor might 
still interpose between her passion and its end. Along the stairs, 
through the hall, marched the armies of light — noiseless and still and 
clear, as the judgments of God, amidst the darkness and shadow of 
mortal destinies. In one chamber alone, the folds, curtained close, 
forbade all but a single ray — that ray came direct, as the stream from 
a lantern, as the beam reflected back from an eye ; — as an eye it 
seemed watchful, and steadfast, through the dark ; it shot along the 
floor — it fell at the foot of the bed. 

Suddenly, in the exceeding hush, there was a strange and ghastly 
sound — it was the howl of a dog ! Helen started from her sleep. 
Percival's dog had followed her, Into her room, it had coiled itself, 
grateful for the kindness, at the foot of the bed. Now, it was on the 
pillow, she felt its heart beat against her hand ; it was trembling ; its 
hairs bristled up, and the howl changed hito a shrill bark of terror 
and wrath. Alarmed, she looked round : quickly between her and 
that ray from the crevice, a shapeless darkness passed, and was gonel^ 
So undistinguishable, so without outline, that it had no likeness of 
any living form : — like a cloud, like a thought, like an omen, it came 
in gloom, and it vanished. 

Helen was seized with a superstitious terror — the dog continued to 
tremble and growl low. All once more was still — the dog sighed 
itself to rest. The stillness, the solitude — the glimmer of the moon 
— all contributed yet more to appal the enfeebled nerves of the 
listening, shrinking girl. At length she buried her face under tha 
clothes, and towards daybreak fell into a broken, feverish sleep, 
haunted with threatening dreams. 



tUCXm*. HI 



CHAPTER XXV. 



THE MESSENGER SPEEDS. 



Towards the afternoon of the following day, an elderly gentle- 
man was seated in the coffee-room of an hotel at Southampton, 
engaged in writing a letter, while the waiter in attendance was em- 

Eloyed on the wires that fettered the petulant spirit contained in a 
ottle of Schweppe's soda-water. There was something in the aspect 
of the old gentleman, and in the very tone of his voice, that inspired 
respect, and the waiter had cleared the other tables of their latest 
newspapers to place before him. He had only just arrived by the 
packet from Havre, and even the newspapers nad not been to him 
that primary attraction they generally constitute to the Englishman 
returning to his bustling native land, which, somewhat to his surprise, 
has contrived to go on tolerably well during his absence. 

We use our privilege of looking over his shoulder while he 
writes : — 

" Here I am, then, dear Lady Mary, at Southampton, and within 
an easy drive of the old Hall ! A file of Galignani's Journals, which 
I found in the road between Marseilles and Paris, informed me, under 
the head of ' fashionable movements, 3 that Percival St. John, Esquire, 
was 'gone to his seat at Laughton.' According to my customary tactics 
of marching at once to the seat of action, I therefore made direct for 
Havre, instead of crossing from Calais, and I suppose I shall find our 
young gentleman engaged in the slaughter of hares and partridges. 
lou see it is a good sign that he can leave London. Keep up your 
spirits, my dear friend. If Perce has been really duped and taken 
in, — as all you mothers are so apt to fancy, — rely upon an old soldier 
to defeat the enemy, and expose the_ ruse. But if, after all, the girl 
is such as he describes and believes — innocent, artless, and worthyhis 
affection — oh, then I range myself, with your own good heart, upon 
his side. IN" ever will I run the risk of unsettling a maD's whole cha- 
racter for life by wantonly interfering with his affections. But there 
we are agreed. 

" In a few hours I shall be with our dear boy, and his whole heart 
will come out clear and candid as when it beat under his midship- 
man's true-blue. In a day or two I shall make him take me to town, 
to introduce me to the whole nest of them. Then I shall report pro- 
gress. Adieu, till then ! Kind regards to your poor sister. I think 
we shall have a mild winter. Not one warning twinge as yet, of the 
old rheumatism. 

" Ever your devoted old friend 

" And preux chevalier, 

" H. GfiEVILLE." 



2)S LU\ HKTIA. 

The captain had completed his letter, sipped his soda-water, and 
was affixing to his communication his seal, when he heard the rattle 
of a postchaise without. Fancying it was the one he had ordered, he 
went to the open window which looked on the street ; but the chaise 
contained travellers, only halting to change horses. Somewhat to his 
surprise, and a little to his chagrin, — for the captain did not count on 
finding company at the Hall, — he heard one of the travellers in the 
chaise ask the distance to Laughton. The countenance of the ques- 
tioner was not familiar to him. But leaving the worthy captain to 
question the landlord, without any satisfactory information, and to 
hasten the chaise for himself, we accompany the travellers on their 
way to Laughton. There were but two — the proper complement of a 
post-chaise — and they were both of the ruder sex. The elder of the 
two was a man of middle age, but whom the wear and tear of active life 
had evidently advanced towards the state called elderly. But there was 
still abundant life in his quick, dark eye ; and that mercurial youth- 
fulness of character, which in some happy constitutions seems to defy 
years and sorrows, evinced itself in a rapid play of countenance, and 
as much gesticulation as the narrow confines of the vehicle and 
the position _ of a traveller will permit. The younger man, far 
more grave in aspect and quiet in manner, leaned back in the 
corner with folded arms, and listened with respectful attention to his 
companion. 

" Certainly, Dr. Johnson is right — great happiness in an English 
post-chaise properly driven ! more exhilarating than a palanquin : 
Post equitem sedet atra cura' — true only of such scrubby hacks as old 
Horace could have known. Black Care does not sit behind English 
posters — eh, my boy ! " As he spoke this, the gentleman had twice let 
down the glass of the vehicle, and twice put it up again. 

"Yet," he resumed, without noticing the brief, good-humoured 
reply of his companion — " yet this is an anxious business enough that 
we are about. I don't feel quite easy in my conscience. Poor Brad- 
dell's injunctions were very strict, and I disobey them. It is on your 
responsibility, John ! " 

" I take it without hesitation. All the motives for so stern a sever- 
ance must have ceased, and is it not a sufficient punishment to find in 
that hoped-for son, a " 

" Poor woman ! " interrupted the elder gentleman, in whom we 
begin to recognise the soi-disant Mr. Tomkms — " true, indeed — too 
true. How well I remember the impression Lucretia Clavering first 
produced on me ; — and to think of her now as a miserable cripple ! 
By Jove, you are right, sir ! Drive on, post-boy, quick, quick ! " 

There was a short silence. 

The elder gentleman, abruptly, put his hand upori his companion's 
arm. 

" What consummate acuteness — what patient research you have 
shown ! What could I have done in tliis business without you ? How 
often had that garrulous Mrs. Mivers bored me with Becky Carru- 
thers, and the coral, and St. Paul's, and not a suspicion came across 
me ; — a word was sufficient for you ; — and then to track this unfeel- 
ing old Joplin, from place to dace, till you find her absolutely i 



LUCKETIA. 239 

servant under the very roof of Mrs. Braddell herself ! Wonderful ! 
Ah, boy, you will be an honour to the law, and to your country. And, 
what a hard-hearted rascal you must think me to have deserted you 
so long ! " 

" My dear father," said John Ardworth, tenderly—" your love now 
recompenses me for all. And ought I not rather to rejoice not to 
have known the tale of a mother's shame, until I could half forget it 
on a father's breast P " 

" John," said the elder Ardworth, with a choking voice— " I ought 
to wear sackcloth all my life, for having given you such a mother. 
When I think what I have suffered from the habit of carelessness 
in those confounded money matters ( — ' irritamenta malorum,' 
indeed!), I have only one consolation, that my patient, noble son 
is free from my vice. You would not believe what a well-principled, 
honourable fellow I was at your age, and yet, how truly I said to my 
poor friend, William Mainwaring, one day at Laughton (I remem- 
ber it now) — 'Trust me with anything else but half-a-guinea ! ' 
Why, sir, it was that fault that threw me into low company — that 
brought me in contact with my innkeeper's daughter at Limerick. I 
fell in love, and I married (for, with all my faults, I was never a 
seducer, John). I did not own my marriage; why should I? — my 
relatives had cut me already. You were born, and, hunted poor devil 
as I was, I forgot all by your cradle. Then, in the midst of my 
troubles, that ungrateful woman deserted me — then I was led to 
believe that it was not my own son whom I had kissed and blessed. 
Ah, but for that thought, should I have left you as I did ! Ami even 
in infancy, you had the features only of your mother. Then, when 
the death of the adulteress set me free, and years afterwards, in India, 
I married again, and had new ties — my heart grew still harder to you. 
I excused myself by knowing that at least you were cared for, and 
trained to good by a better guide than I. But when, by so strange a 
hazard, the very priest who had confessed your mother on her death- 
bed (she was a Catholic), came to India, and (for he had known me at 
Limerick) recognized my altered person, and obeying his penitent's 
last injunctions, assured me that you were my son,— oh, John, then, 
believe me, I hastened back to England, on the wings of remorse ! 
Love you, boy ! I have left at Madras three children, young and fair, 
by a woman now in heaven, who never wronged me, and, by my soul, 
John Ardworth, you are dearer to me than all !" 

The father's head drooped on his son's breast as he spoke ; then, 
dashing away his tears, he resumed : 

" Ah, why would not Braddell permit me, as I proposed, to find for 
his son the same guardianship as that to which I intrusted my own ; 
but his bigotry besotted him ;— a clergyman of the high church, — that 
was worse than an atheist ! I had no choice left to me but the rool 
of that she-hypocrite. Yet I ought to have come to England when 1 
heard of the child's loss, braved duns and all ; but I was money- 
making, money-making — retribution for money-wasting; — and — well, 
it's no use repenting ! — and — and— there is the lodge, the park, the 
old trees ! Poor Sir Miles !" 



290 Lcc.jLr.iTA. 



CHAPTER XXVL 

THE SPY FLIES. 

Meaxwhile at Laughton, there was confusion and alarm. Helen 
had found herself more than usually unwell in the morning; towards 
noon, the maid, who attended her, informed Madame Dahbard that 
she was afraid the poor young lady had much fever, and inquired if 
the doctor should be sent for. Madame Dalibard seemed surprised 
at the intelligence, and directed her chair to be wheeled into her 
niece's room, in order herself to judge of Helen's state. The maid, 
sure that the doctor would be summoned, hastened to the stables, and 
seeing Beck, instructed him to saddle one of the horses, and to await 
further orders. Beck kept her a few moments talking, while he 
saddled his horse, and then followed her into the house, observing 
that it would save time if he were close at hand. 

" That is quite true," said the maid, " and you may as well wait in 
the corridor. Madame may wish to speak to you herself, and give you 
her own message or note tothe Doctor." 

Beck, full of gloomy suspicions, gladly obeyed ; and while the maid 
entered the sick-chamber, stood anxiously without. _ Presently Varney 
passed him, and knocked at Helen's door ; the maid half-opened it. 

"How is Miss Mainwaring ?" said he, eagerly. 

" I fear she is worse, sir, — but Madame Dalibard does not think 
there is any danger." 

" No danger ! I am glad ; but pray ask Madame Dalibard to let me 
see her for a few moments, in her own room. If she come out I will 
wheel her chair to it. Whether there is danger or not we had better 
send for other advice than this country doctor, who has perhaps mis- 
taken the case ; tell her I am very uneasy, and beg her to join me 
immediately." 

" I think you are quite right, sir ;" said the maid, closing the door. 

Varney then turning round for the first time, noticed Beck, and 
said, roughly — 

" What do you do here ? Wait below till you are sent for." 

Beck pulled his forelock, and retreated back, not in the direction of 
the principal staircase, but towards that used by the servants, and 
which his researches into the topography of the mansion had now 
made known to him. To gain these back stairs he had to pass 
Lucretia's room ; the door stood ajar ; Varney's face was turned from 
him. Beck breathed hard, looked round, then crept within, and in a 
moment, was behind the folds of the tapestry. 

Soon the chair in which sat Madame Dahbard was drawn by Varney 
himself into the room. 

Shutting the door with care, and turning the key, Gabriel saii 
with low, suppressed passion 



LUCItETIA. 201 

" Well; your mn>.d seems wandering — speak!" 

"It is strange," said Lucretia, in hollow tones, "can Nature turn 
iccomplice, and befriend us here?" 

" Nature ! did you not last night administer the " 

" No," intermpted Lucretia. " No ; she came into the room — she 
kissed me here, on the brow that even then was meditating murder. 
The kiss burned ; it burns still — it eats into the brain, like remorse. 
But I did not yield — 1 read again her false father's protestation of 
luve — 1 read again the letter announcing the discovery of my son, and 
remorse lay still — I went forth as before — I stole Luto her chamber — 
I had the fatal crystal in my hand " 

'•Well! well!" 

" And suddenly there came the fearful howl of a dog ! and the 
dog's fierce eyes glared on me ; I paused — I trembled ; Helen 
started, woke, called aloud— I turned and lied. The poison was not 
given." 

Yarney ground his teeth. " But this illness ! Ha ! the effect, per- 
hans.of the drops administered two nights ago." 

'' No ! this illness has no symptoms like "those the poison should 
bequeath ; it is but natural fever, a shock on the nerves ; she told me 
she had been wakened by the dog's howl, and seen a dark form, like 
a thing from the grave, creeping along the floor. But she is really ill 
— send for the physician ; there is nothing in her illness to betray the 
hand of man. Be it as it may — that kiss still burns — I will stir in this 
no more. Do what you will yourself ! " 

" Fool ! fool ! " exclaimed Varney, almost rudely grasping her arm. 
"Remember how much we have yet to prepare for — how much to do 
— and the time so short ! Percival's return — perhaps this Greville's 
arrival. Give me the drugs, I will mix them for her in the potion the 
physician sends. And when Percival _ returns — his Helen dead or 
dying — I will attend on him ! Silent still ? Recall your son ! Soon 

fou will clasp him hi your arms as a beggar, or as the lord of 
jaughton ! " 

Lucretia shuddered, but did not rise ; she drew forth a ring of keys 
from her bosom, and pointed towards a secretary. Varney snatcned 
the keys, unlocked the secretary, seized the fatal casket, and sat down 
quietly before it. 

When the dire selections were made, and secreted about his person, 
Varney rose, approached the fire, and blew the wood embers to a 
blaze. 

"And now," he said, with his icy irony of smile, "we may dismiss 
these useful instruments perhaps for ever. Though Walter Ardworth, 
in restoring your son, leaves us dependent on that son's filial affec- 
tion, and I may have, therefore, little to hope for from the succession, 
to secure which 1 have risked, and am again to risk, my life, 1 yet 
trust to that influence which you never fail to obtain over others. I 
take it for granted, that when these halls are Vincent Braddell's we 
shall have no need of gold, nor of these pale alchemies. Perish, then, 
the mute witnesses of our acts ! — the elements we have bowed to our 
will ! No poisons shall be found in our hoards ! Eire, consume your 
consuming children ! " 



LTJC11ETIA. 

As lie spoke, lie threw upon the hearth the contends <)f trie casket, 
and. set his heel upon the logs. A bluish flame shot up, breaking into 
countless sparks, and then died. 

Lucretia watched him, without speaking. 

In coining back towards the table, ^ Varney felt something hard 
beneath his tread; he stooped, and picked up the ring which has 
before been described as amongst the ghastly treasures of the casket, 
and which had rolled on the floor almost to Lucretia's feet, as he had 
emptied the contents on the hearth. 

' This, at least, need tell no tales," said he ; "a. pity to destroy 
so rare a piece of workmanship, — one, too, which we never can 
replace ! " 

"Ay," said Lucretia, abstractedly — " and if detection comes, it may 
secure a refuge from the gibbet. Give me the ring ! " 

" A refuge more terrible than the detection," said Varney — "beware 
of such a thought," as Lucretia, taking it from his hand, placed the 
ring on her finger. 

" And now I leave you for awhile to recollect yourself — to 
compose your countenance and your thoughts. I will send for the 
physician." 

Lucretia, with her eyes fixed on the floor, did not heed him, and he 
withdrew. 

So motionless was her attitude, — so still her very breathing, — that 
the unseen witness behind the tapestry, who, while struck with horror 
at what he had overheard (the general purport of which it was impos- 
sible that he could misunderstand), was parched with impatience to 
escape — to rescue his beloved master from his impending fate, and 
warn him of the fate hovering nearer still over Helen, ventured to 
creep along the wall to the threshold — to peer forth from the arras, 
and seeing her eyes still downcast, to emerge, and place his hand on 
the door. 

At that very moment Lucretia looked up, and saw him gliding from 
the tapestry ; their eyes met — his were fascinated as the bird's by the 
snake's. At the sight, all her craft, her intellect, returned. With a 
glance, she comprehended the terrible danger that awaited her. Before 
he was aware of her movement, she was at his side — her hand on his 
own — her voice in his ear. 

" Stir not a step — utter not a sound — or you are " 

Beck did not suffer her to proceed. With the violence rather of 
fear than of courage, he struck her to the ground ; but she clung to 
him still ; and, though rendered for the moment speechless by the 
suddenness of the blow, her eyes took an expression of unspeakable 
cruelty and fierceness. He struggled with all his might to shake her 
off ; as he did so, she placed feebly her other hand upon the wrist of 
the lifted arm that had smitten her, and he felt a sharp pain, as if the 
nails had fastened into the flesh. This but exasperated him to new 
efforts. He extricated himself from her grasp, which relaxed as her 
lips writhed into a smile of scorn and triumph, and, spurning her while 
she lay before the threshold, he opened the door, sprang forward, and 
escaped. No thought had he oi tarrying in that House of Pelops, 
those human shambles, — of denouncing Muvdev in its lair ; to fly, to 



LUCUKTU. 203 

reach his master, warn and shield Mm — that was the sole thought wliich 
crossed his confused, bewildered brain. 

It might be from four to five minutes that Lucretia, half-stunned, 
half-senseless, lay upon those floors ; for. besides the violence of her 
fall, the shock o( the struggle upon nerves weakened by the agony ot 
apprehension, occasioned uy the imminent and unforeseen chance of 
detection, paralysed her wondrous vigour of mind and frame — when 
Varney entered. 

"They tell me she sleeps," he said, in hoarse muttered accents, 
before he saw the prostrate form at his very feet. But Varney's step 
— Varney's voice, had awakened Lucrctia's reason to consciousness 
and the sense of peril. Rising, though with effort, she related hur- 
riedly what had passed. 

"Fly! — fly !" she gasped, as she concluded. "Fly — to detain, to 
secrete tMs man somewhere for the next few hours. Silence him but 
till then— I have done the rest ! " — and her finger pointed to the fatal 
ring. 

Varney waited for no farther words ; he hurried out, and made at 
once to the stables : Ms shrewdness conjectured that Beck would 
carry Ms tale elsewhere. The groom was already gone (his fellows 
said; without a word, but towards the lodge that led to the South- 
ampton road. Varney ordered the swiftest horse the stables held to 
be saddled, and said, as he sprang on Ms back, — 

" I, too, must go towards Southampton — the poor young lady ! — 1 
must prepare your master — he is on Ms road back to us ; " and the 
last word was scarce out of Ms lips, as the sparks flew from the 
flints under the horse's hoofs, and he spurred from the yard. 

As he rode at full speed through the park, the villain's mind sped 
more rapidly than the animal he Destrode — sped from fear to hope — 
hope to assurance. Grant that the spy livecf to tell Ms tale — incohe- 
rent, improbable as the tale would be — who would believe it ? How 
easy to meet tale by tale ! The man must own that he was secretea 
behind the tapestry ; — wherefore but to rob ? Detected by Madame 
Dalibard, he had coined tMs wretched fable. And the spy, too, could 
not live through the day — he bore Death with him as he rode— he fed 
its force by his speed — and the effects of the venom itself would be 
those of frenzy. _ Tush ! his tale, at best, would seem but the ravings 
of delirium. _ Still, it was well to track Mm where he went, — delay 
him, if possible ; and Varney's spurs plunged deep and deeper into 
the bleeding flanks : on desperately scoured the horse. He passed 
the lodge— he was on the road — a chaise and pair dashed by Mm — he 
heard not a voice exclaim " Varney ! "—he saw not the wondering 
face of John Ardworth; — bending over the tossing mane — he was 
deaf, he was blind, to all without and around. A milestone glides by, 
another, and a third. Ha! Ms eyes can see now. The object of his 
chase is before him — he views distinctly, on the brow of yon hill, the 
horse and the rider, spurring fast, like Mmself. _ They descend the hill, 
horse and horseman, and are snatched from Ms sight. Up the steep 
strains the pursuer. He is at the summit. He sees the fugitive 
before Mm. almost within hearing. Beck has slackened his speed; he 
seems swaying to and fro in the saddle. Ho, ho ! the barbed ring 



r..'i UJCirjr'HA. 

begins to work in his veins ! Varney looks round — not another soul 
is in sight— -a deep woo d_ skirts the road. Place and t-ime seem to 
favour — Beck has reined in his horse — he bends low over the saddle, 
as if about to fall. Varney utters a half-suppressed cry of triumph, 
shakes his reins, and spurs on — when, suddenly (by the curve of the 
road, hid before), another chaise comes in sight, close where Beck had 
wearily halted. 

The chaise stops — Varney pulls in, and draws aside to the hedge- 
row ! Some one within the vehicle is speaking to the fugitive ! May 
it not be St. John himself ? To his rage and his terror, he sees Beck 
painfully dismount from his horse — sees him totter to the door of the 
chaise — sees a servant leap from the box, and help him up the step — 
sees him enter. It mud be Percival on his return ! Percival, to whom 
he tells that story of horror ! Varney' s brute-like courage forsook 
him — his heart was appalled. In one of those panics so common with 
that boldness which is but animal, Ids sole thought became that of 
escape. He turned his horse's head to the fence — forced his way 
desperately through the barrier — made into the wood, and sat there, 
cowering and listening, till in another minute he heard the wheels 
rattle on, and the horses gallop hard down the hill towards the 
park. 

The autumn wind swept through the trees — it shook the branches 
of the lofty ash that overhung the Accursed One. What observer of 
nature knows not that peculiar sound which the ash gives forth in the 
blast — not the solemn groan of the oak — not the hollow murmur of 
the beech, but a shrill wail — a shriek, as of a human voice in sharp 
anguish. Varney shuddered, as if he had heard the death-cry of his 
intended victims ! Through briars and thickets, torn by the thorns, 
bruised by the boughs — he plunged deeper and deeper into the wood 
— gained at length the main path cut through it — found himself in a 
lane, and rode on, careless whither, till he had reached a small town, 
about ten miles from Laughton, where he resolved to wait till his 
nerves had recovered their tone, and he could more calmly calculate 
the chances of safety. 



LUCKETI/l. 295 



CHAPTER XXVII. 



LUCRETIA REGAINS HER SON. 

ii seemed as if now, when danger became most imminent and 
present — that that very danger served to restore to Lucretia Dali 
bard all her faculties, which during the earlier day had been steeped 
in a kind of dreary stupor. The absolute necessity of playing out her 
execrable part with all suitable and consistent hypocrisy, braced her 
into iron But the disguise she assumed was a supernatural effort — 
it stretched to cracking every fibre of the brain. It seemed almost to 
herself, as if, her object once gained, either life or consciousness could 
hold out no more ! 

A chaise stopped at the porch — two gentlemen descended. The 
elder paused irresolutely, and at length, taking out a card, inscribed 
"Mr. waiter Ard worth," said, "If Madame Dalibard can be spoken 
to for a moment, will you give her this card ? " 

The footman hesitatingly stared at the card, and then invited the 
gentleman into the ball, while he took up the message. Not long had 
the visitor to wait, pacing the dark oak floors and gazing on the faded 
banners, before the servant reappeared — Madame Dalibard would see 
him. He followed his guide up the stairs ; while his young com- 
panion turned from the hall, and seated himself musingly on one of 
the benches on the deserted terrace. 

Grasping the arms of her chair with both hands, her eyes fixed 
eaeerly on his face, Lucretia Dalibard awaited the welcome visitor. 

Prepared as he had been for change, Walter was startled by the 
ghastly alteration in Lucretia's features, increased, as it was that 
moment, by all the emotions which raged within. He sank into the 
chair placed for him opposite Lucretia, and, clearing his throat, said, 
faltermgly — _ 

" I grieve indeed, madam, that my visit, intended to bring but joy, 
should chance thus inopportunely. The servant informed me, as we 
came up the stairs, that your niece was ill, and I sympathize with 
your natural anxiety— Susan's only child, too — poor Susan !" 

" Sir," said Lucretia, impatiently, " these moments are precious. 
Sir— sir !— my son — my son ! " and her eyes glanced to the door. 
" You have brought with you a companion — does he wait without ?— 
My son ! " 

" Madam, give me a moment's patience. I will be brief, and com- 
press what, in other moments, might be a long narrative, into a few 
sentences." 

Rapidly, then, Walter Ardworth passed over the details, unneces- 
sary now to repeat to the reader ; the injunctions of Braddell, the 
delivery of the child to the woman selected by his fellow-sectarian 
(who, it seemed, by John Ardworth's recent inquiries, was afterwards. 



expelled the commiinity, ana' wno, there was reason to believe, had 
been the first seducer of the woman thus recommended). No clue to 
the child's parentage had been given to the woman, with the sum 
intrusted for his maintenance, which sum had perhaps been the main 
cause of her reckless progress to infamy and ruin. The narrator 
passed lightly over the neglect and cruelty of the nurse, to her aban- 
donment of the child when the money was exhausted. Fortunately, 
she had overlooked the coral round its neck. By that coral, and by 
the initials, Y. B., which Ardworth had had the" precaution to have 
burned into the child's wrist, the lost son had been discovered ; the 
nurse herself (found in the person of Martha Skeggs, Lucretia's own 
servant) had been confronted with the woman to whom she gave the 
child, and recognized at once. Nor had it been difficult to obtain 
from her the confession which completed the evidence. 

" In this discovery," concluded Ardworth, "the person I employed 
met your own agent, and the last links in the chain they traced 
together. But to that person, — to his zeal and intelligence, — you 
owe the happiness I trust to give you. He sympathized with me the 
more that he knew you personally, felt for your sorrows, and had a 
lingering belief that you supposed him to be the child you yearned 
for. Madam, thank my son for the restoration of your own ! " 

Without sound, Lucretia had listened to these details, though her 
countenance changed fearfully as the narrator proceeded. But now 
she groaned aloud and in agony. 

" Nay, madam," said Ardworth, feelingly and in some surprise, 
" surely the discovery of your son should create gladder emotions. 
Though, indeed, you will be prepared to find that the poor youth so 
reared wants education and refinement, I have heard enough to con- 
vince me that his dispositions are good and his heart grateful. Judge 
of this yourself ; he is in these walls — he is " 

" Abandoned by a harlot — reared by a beggar ! My son ! " inter- 
rupted Lucretia, in broken sentences. " Well, sir, have you discharged 
your task i Well have you replaced a mother ! " 

Before Ardworth could reply, loud and rapid steps were heard in the 
corridor, and a voice, cracked, indistinct, but vehement. The door 
was thrown open, and, half-supported by Captain Greville, half drag- 
ging him along — his features convulsed, whether by pain or passion 
— the spy upon Lucretia's secrets, the denouncer of her crime, 
tottered to the threshold. Pointing to where she sat with his long, 
lean arm. Beck exclaimed — " Seize her ! I 'cuse her. face to face, of 
the murder of her niece !— of— of I told you, sir— I told you -" 

" Madam," said Captain Greville, " you stand charged by this wit- 
ness with the most terrible of human crimes. I judge you not. Your 
niece, I rejoice to hear, yet lives ! Pray God that her death be noi 
traced to those kindred hands ! " 

Turning her eyes from one to the other with a wanflering stare, 
Lucretia Dalibard remained silent. But tlrre was still scorn on her 
ftp, and defiance on her brow. At last she said, slowly, and to Ard- 
worth — 

" Where is my son ? You say, he is within these walls — call him 
forth to protect his mother ! Give me, at least, my son — my son !" 



IX'CUETIA. 

"ury 



llcrlast words were drowned by a fresh burst of furyfrom her 

_ " " »ly— 

in all t he hideous vulgarities of his untutored dialect— in that uncurbed 



denouncer. In all the coarsest invective his education could supply — 



licentiousness of tone, look, and manner which passion, once aroused, 
fjives to the dregs and scum of the populace. Beck poured forth his 
t rightful charges — his frantic execrations. In vain Captain Greville 
strove to check him. In vain Walter Ardworth sought to draw him 
from the room. But while the poor wretch — maddening not more 
with the consciousness of the crime, than with the excitement of the 
poison in his blood — thus raved and stormed, a terrible suspicion 
crossed AY alter Ardworth: mechanically — as his grasp was on the 
accuser's arm — he bared the sleeve, and on the wriei were the dark 
blue letters, burned into the skin, and bearing witness to his identity 
with the lost Vincent Braddell. 

" Hold, hold ! " he exclaimed then — " hold, unhappy man ! — it is 
your mother whom you denounce !" 

Lucrotia sprang up erect — her eyes seemed starting from her head ; 
she caught at the arm pointed towards her in wrath and menace — and 
there, amidst those letters that proclaimed her son, was the small 
puncture surrounded by a livid circle, thatannounced her victim. In 
the same instant she discovered her child in the man who was calling 
down upon her head the hatred of Earth and the justice of Heaven, 
and knew herself his murderess. 

She dropped the arm, and sank back on the chair ; and, whether 
the poison had now reached to the vitals, or whether so unwonted a 
passion in so frail a frame, sufficed for the death-stroke, Beck himself, 
with a low suffocated cry, slid from the hand of Ardworth, and tot- 
tering a step or so, the blood gushed from his mouth over Lucretia's 
/obe; — his head drooped an instant, and falling, rested first upon her lap 
— then struck heavily on the floor. The two men bent over him, and 
raised him in their arms— his eyes opened and closed— his throat 
rattled, and as he fell back into their arms a corpse, a laugh rose close 
at hand — it rang through the walls, it was heard near and afar — above 
and below. iS'ot an ear in that house that heard it not. In that 
laugh fled for ever, till the Judgment-day, from the blackened ruin* 
of her lost soul, the reason of the murderess-mother, 



298 .MJCftETLn. 



CHAPTER XXVUI. 

THE LOIS VANISH WITHIN THE UUN. 

Vaenest's self-commune restored to Mm his constitutional audacity. 
He returned to Laughton towards the evening, and held a conference 
with Greville. Fortunately for him, perhaps, and happily for all, 
Helen had lost all more dangerous symptoms, and the physician, who 
was in the house, saw in her state nothing not easily to be accounted 
for by natural causes. Percival had arrived, had seen Helen — no 
wonder she was better. Both from him and from Helen, Madame 
Dalibard' s fearful condition was for the present concealed. Ardworth's 
story, and the fact of Beck's identity with Yincent Braddell, were 
also reserved for a later occasion. The tale which Beck had 

poured into the ear of Greville (when recognizing the St. John livery, 
the Captain stopped his chaise to inquire if Percival were at the Hail, 
and when thrilled by the hideous import of his broken reply, that 
gentleman had caused him to enter the vehicle to explain himself 
further) Varney, with his wonted art and address, contrived to strip 
of all probable semblance. Evidently the poor lad had been already 
delirious, his story must be deemed the nightmare of Iris disordered 
reason. Varney insisted upon surgical examination as to the cause 
of his death — the membranes of the brain were found surcharged with 
blood, as in cases of great mental excitement — the slight puncture in 
the wrist, ascribed to the prick of a rusty nail, provoked no suspicion. 
If some doubts remained still on Greville's acute mind, he was not 
eager to express, still less to act upon them. Helen was declaredto 
be out of danger. Percival was safe — why affix by minute inquiry 
into the alleged guilt of Madame Dalibard (already so awfully affected 
by the death of her sou and by the loss of her reason) so foul a stain 
on the honoured family of St. John ? But Greville was naturally 
anxious to free the house as soon as possible, both of Varney and that 
ominous Lucretia, whose sojourn under its roof seemed accursed. He 
therefore readily assented wheu Varney proposed — as his obvious and 
personal duty, to take charge of his mother-in-law, and remove her to 
London for immediate advice. 

At the dead of the black-clouded night — no moon and no stars — 
the son of Olivier Dalibard bore away the form of the once formidable 
Lucretia :— the form, for the mind was gone — that teemingj restless, 
and fertile intellect, which had carried along the projects, with the 
preterhuman energies of the fiend, was hurled into night and chaos. 
Manacled and bound, for at times her paroxysms were terrible, and all 
partook of the destructive and murderous character which her 
faculties, when present, had betrayed, she was placed in the vehicle 
by the shrinking side of her accomplice. 



LUCllETia. ~'i'J 

Long before he arrived in London, Vamey bad got rid of his fear- 
ful companion. His chaise had stopped at the iron gates of a large 
building, somewhat out of the main road, and the doors of the Mad- 
house closed on Lucretia Dalibard. 

Varney then hastened to Dover, with intention of flight into 
France ; he was just about to step into the vessel, when he was tapped 
rudely on the shoulder, and a determined voice said—" Mr. Gaoriel 
Varney, you are my prisoner ! " 

" For what ?— some paltry debt ? " said Varney, haughtily. 

"For forgery on the Bank of England ! " 

Varney's hand plunged into his vest. The officer seized it in time, 
and wrested the blade from his grasp. Once arrested for an offence 
it was impossible to disprove, although the very smallest of which his 
conscience might charge him, Varney sank into the blackest despair. 
Though he had often boasted, not only to others, but to his own vain 
breast, of the easy courage with which, when life ceased to yield enjoy- 
ment, he could dismiss it oy the act of Ms own will, — though he had pos- 
sessed himself of Lucretia's murderous ring, and death, if fearful, was 
therefore at his command, self-destruction was the last thought that 
occurred to him • that morbid excitability of fancy, which, whether in 
his art or in his deeds, had led him to strange delight in horror, now 
served but to haunt him with the images of death in those ghastliest 
shapes familiar to them who look only into the bottom of the charnel, 
and see but the rat and the worm, and the loathsome agencies of cor- 
ruption. It was not the despair of conscience that seized him, it was 
the abject clinging to life — not the remorse of the soul — that still 
slept within him, too noble an agency for one so debased — but the 
gross physical terror. As the fear of the tiger once aroused is more 
paralysing than that of the deer, proportioned to the savageness of a 
disposition to which fear is a novelty, so the very boldness of Vamey, 
coming only from the perfection of the nervous organization, and un- 
supported by one moral sentiment, once struck down, was corrupted 
into the vilest cowardice. With his audacity, his shrewdness forsook 
him. Advised by his lawyer to plead guilty, he obeyed, and the sen- 
tence of transportation for life gave hi-m at first a feeling of reprieve ; 
but when his imagination began to picture, in the darkness of bis 
cell, all the true tortures of that penalty, not so much, perhaps, to the 
uneducated peasant felon, inured to toil, and familiarized with coarse 
companionship, as to one pampered like himself by all soft and half- 
womanly indulgencies — the shaven hair, — the convict's dress, — the 
rigorous privation,— the drudging toil— the exile seemed as grim as 
the grave. In the dotage of faculties smitten into drivelling, he wrote 
to the Home Office, offering to disclose secrets connected with crimes 
that had hitherto escaped or baffled justice, on condition that his sen- 
tence might be repealed, or mitigated into the gentler forms of ordi- 
nary transportation. No answer was returned to him — but his letter 
provoked research ; circumstances connected with his uncle's death. 
and with various other dark passages in his life, sealed against him all 
hope of more merciful sentence : and when some acquaintances, whom 
nis art had made for him, and who, while grieving foe bis crime, saw in, 

12 



300 X.TJCKETIA. 

it some excuses (ignorant of his feller deeds), sought to intercede in 
his behalf, the reply of the Home Office was obvious : " He is a fortu- 
nate man to have been tried and condemned for his least offence." 
Not one indulgence that could distinguish him from the most exe- 
crable ruffian condemned to the same sentence was conceded. 

The idea of the gibbet lost all its horror. Here was a gibbet for 
every hour ! No hope — no escape. Already that Future Doom widen 
comprehends the " For ever " opened upon him, black and fathom- 
less. The hour-glass was broken up — the hand of the time-piece was 
arrested. _ The Beyond stretched before him, without limit, without 
goal— on into Annihilation or into Hell. 



EPILOGUE TO PART THE SECOND. 

Stand, Man ! upon the hill-top — in the stillness of the evening 
hour— and gaze, not with joyous, but with contented eyes, upon the 
Deautiful world around thee ! See, where the mists, soft and dim, 
rise over the green meadows, through which the rivulet steals its 
way ! See where, broadest and stillest, the wave expands to the full 
smile of the setting sun— and the willow that trembles on the breeze 
— and the oak that stands firm in the storm, are reflected back, 
peaceful both, from the clear glass of the tides ! See, where, begirt 
by the gold of the harvests, and backed by the pomp of a thousand 
groves — the roofs of the town, bask, noiseless, in the calm glow of the 
sky. Not a sound from those abodes floats in discord to thine ear, 
— K)nly from the church-tower, soaring high above the rest, perhaps, 
faintly heard through the stillness, swells the note of the holy bell. 
Along the mead, low skims the swallow — on the wave, the silver 
circlet, breaking into spray, shows the sport of the fish. See, the 
Earth, how serene, though all eloquent of activity and life ! _ See the 
Heavens, how benign, though dark clouds, by yon mountain, blend 
the purple with the gold ! Gaze contented, for Good is around thee 
— not joyous, for Evil is the shadow of Good ! Let thy soul pierce 
through the veil of the senses, and thy sight plunge deeper than the 
surface which gives delight to thine eye. Below the glass of that 
river, the pike darts on his prey ; the circle in the wave, the soft 
plash amongst the reeds, are but signs of Destroyer and of Yictim. 
In the ivy round the oak by the margin, the owl hungers for the 
night, which shall give its beak and its talons living food for its 
voung ; and the spray of the willow trembles with the wing of the 
redbreast, whose bright eye sees the worm on the sod. Canst thou count 
too, Man ! all the cares — all the sins — that those noiseless roof- 
tops conceal ? With every curl of that smoke to the sky, a human 
thought soars as dark, a human hope melts as briefly. And the 
bell from the church-tower, that to thy ear gives but music, per- 



I/UC11ETIA. 301 

haps kiiois for the dead. The swallow but chases the moth, and the 
cloud that deepens the glory of the heaven, and the sweet shadows 
on the earth, nurses but the thunder that shall rend the grove, ana 
the storm that shall devastate the harvests. Not with fear, not with 
doubt, recognize, Mortal, the presence of Evil in the world.* 
Hush thy heart in the humbleness of awe, that its mirror may 
reflect as serenely the shadow as the light. Vainly, for its moral, 
dost thou gaze on the landscape, if thy soul puts no check on the 
dull delight of the senses. Two wings only raise thee to the summit 
of Truth, where the Cherub shall comfort the sorrow, where the 
Seraph snail enlighten the joy. Dark as ebon, spreads the one wing ; 
•white as snow, gleams the other — mournful as thy reason when it 
aescends into the deep — exulting as thy faith when it springs to the 
day-star. 

-Seek sleeps in the churchyard of Laughton. He had lived to frus- 
trate the monstrous design intended to benefit himself, and to become 
the instrument, while the victim, of the dread Eunienides. That 
done, his life passed with the crimes that had gathered around, out 
of the sight of mortals. Helen slowly regained her health in the 
atmosphere of love and happiness ; and Lady Mary soon learned to 
forget the fault of the father in the virtues of the child. Married to 
Percival, Helen fulfilled the destinies of woman's genius, in calling 
forth into action man's earnest duties. She breathed into Percival's 
warm beneficent heart, her own more steadfast and divine intelligence. 
Like him she grew ambitious, by her he became distinguished. 
While I write, fair children play under the cedars of Laughton. And 
the husband tells the daughters to resemble their mother ; and the 
wife's highest praise to the boys is — " You have spoken truth, or done 
good, like your father." 

John Ardworth has not paused in his career, nor belied the promise 
of his youth. Though the elder Ardworth, partly by his own exer- 
tions, partly by his second marriage with the daughter of the French 
merchant (through whose agency he had corresponded with Fielden), 
had realized a moderate fortune, it but sufficed for his own wants, 
and for the children of his later nuptials, upon whom the bulk of it 
was settled. Hence, happily perhaps for himself and others, the easy 
circumstances of his father allowed to John Ardworth no exemption 
from labour. His success in the single episode from active life to lite- 
rature, did not intoxicate or mislead him. He knew that his real 
clement was not in the field of letters, but in the world of men. Not 
undervaluing the noble destinies of the Author, he felt that those 
destinies, if realized to the utmost, demanded powers other than his 
own; and that man is only true to his genius when the genius is at 
home in his career. He would not renounce for a brief celebrity 

• Not, Indeed, that the evil here narrated is the ordinary evil of the world. The 
lesson it inculcates would be lost, if so construed ; but that the mystery of evil, 
whatever its degree, only increases the necessity of faith in the vindication of the 
contrivance which requires infinity for its range, and eternity for its consumma- 
r. on. It is in the existence of evil that man finds his duties, and his soul it* 
progress. 



;:('2 MJciiEiiA. 

distant and solid fame. Ho continued for a few years, _ in patience 
and privation, and confident self-reliance, to drudge on, till the occu- 
pation for Ike intellect fed by restraint, and the learning accumulated 
by study, came and found the whole man developed and prepared. 
Then, he rose rapidly from step to step — then, still retaining his high 
enthusiasm, he enlarged his sphere of action from the cold practice of 
law, into those vast social improvements which law, rightly regarded, 
should lead, and vivify, and create. Then, and long before the 
twenty years he had imposed on his probation had expired, he gazed 
again upon the senate and the abbey, and saw the doors of the one 
open to his resolute tread, and anticipated the glorious sepulchre, which 
heart and brain should win him in the other. 

John Ardworth has never married. When Percival rebukes him 
for his celibacy, his lip quivers slightly, and he applies himself with 
more dogged earnestness to his studies or his career. But he never 
complains that his lot is lonely or his affections void. For him 
who aspires, and him who loves, life may lead through the thorns, but 
it never stops in the desert. 

On the minor personages involved in this history, there is little 
need to dwell. Mr. Eielden, thanks to St. John, has obtained a much 
better living in the rectory of Laughton ; but has found new sources 
of pleasant trouble for himself in seeking to drill into the mind of 
Percival's eldest son the elements of Euclid, and the principles of 
Latin syntax. 

We may feel satisfied that the Mivers' will go on much the same 
while trade enriches without refining, and while, nevertheless, right 
feelings in the common paths of duty may unite charitable emotions 
with graceless language. 

We may rest assured that the poor widow, who had reared the lost 
son of Lucretia, received from the bounty of Percival all that could 
comfort her for his death. 

We have no need to track the dull crimes of Martha, or the quick, 
cunning vices of Grabman, to their inevitable goals, in the hospital or 
the prison, the dunghill or the gibbet. 

Of the elder Ardworth our parting notice may be less brief. _ We 
first saw him in sanguine and generous youth, with higher principles 
and clearer insight into honour than William Mainwaring. We have 
seen him next a spendthrift and a fugitive, his principles debased, and 
his honour dimmed. He presents to us no uncommon example of 1he 
corruption engendered by that vulgar self-indulgence which mortgages 
the morrow for the pleasures of to-day. No Deity presides where 
Prudence is absent. Man, a world in himself, requires for the deve- 
lopment of his faculties, patience ; and for the balance of his actions, 
order. Even where he had deemed himself most oppressively made 
the martyr, viz., in the profession of mere political opinions, Walter 
Ardworth had but followed out into theory the restless, uncalculating 
impatience which had brought adversity on his manhood, and, despite 
his constitutional cheerfulness, shadowed his age with remorse. The 
death of the child committed to his charge, long (perhaps to the last) 
smbittered his pride in the son whom, without merit of his own. 



IA'CllETI.Y. 303 

Piovidencc had spared to a brighter fate. But for the fault a which 
bad banished him his country, and the habits which had seared 
his sense of duty, could that child have been so abandoned, and have 
so perished? 

It remains only to cast our glance over the punishments which befell 
i\e sensual villany of Yarney, — the intellectual corruption of his fell 
stepmother. 

These two persons had made a very trade of those crimes to which 
nan's law awards death. They had said in their hearts that they 
would dare the crime, but elude the penalty. By wonderful subtlety, 
craft, and dexterity, which reduced guilt to a science, Providence 
seemed, as in disdain of the vulgar instruments of common retribution, 
to concede to them that which they had schemed for— escape from the 
rope and gibbet. Varney, saved from detection of his darker and more 
inexpiable crimes, punished only for the least one, retained what had 
seemed to him the master boon — life ! Safer still from the law, no 
mortal eye had plumbed the profound night of Lucretia's awful guilt. 
Murderess of husband and son, the blinded law bade her go un- 
scathed, unsuspected. Direct, as from heaven, without a cloud, fell 
the thunderbolt. Is the life they have saved worth the prizing ? Doth 
the chalice, unspilt on the ground, not return to the hand F Is the 
sudden pang of the hangman more fearful than the doom which they 
breathe and bear ? Look, and judge. 

Behold that dark ship on the waters ! Its burthens are not of 
Ormus and Tyre. No goodly merchandise doth it waft over the 
wave, — no blessing cleaves to its sails ; freighted with terror and 
with guilt, with remorse and despair, or, more ghastly _ than either, 
the sullen apathy of souls hardened into stone, it carries the dregs 
and offal of the old world to populate the new. On a bench in that 
ship sit side by side two men, companions assigned to each other. 
Pale, abject, cowering, all the bravery rent from his garb, all the gay 
insolence vanished from his brow — can that hollow-eyed, haggard 
wretch be the same man whose senses opened on every joy, whose 
nerves mocked at every peril ? But beside him, with a grin of vile 
glee on his features, all muscle and brawn in the form, all malice, at 
once spiteful and dull, in the heavy eye, sits his fit comrade — the 
Gravestealer ! At the first glance each had recognized each, and the 
prophecy and the vision rushed back upon the daintier convict. If he 
seek to escape from him, the Gravestealer claims him as a prey, — he 
threatens him with his eye as a slave, — he kicks him with his hoof as 
they sit, and laughs at the writhing of the pain. Carry on your gaze 
from the ship, — hear the cry from the mast-head, — see the land arise 
from the waste ! — a land without hope ! At first, despite the rigour 
of the Home Office, the education and intelligence of Varney have 
their price — the sole crime for which he is convicted is not of the 
darkest. He escapes from that hideous comrade, — he can teach as a 
schoolmaster ; let his brain work, not his hands ! But the most irre- 
deemable of convicts are ever those of nurture, and birth, and culture 
better than the ruffian rest. You may enlighten the clod, but the 
meteor still must feed on the marsh, — and the pride, and the vanity, 



50-1 LUCKET1A. 

work where the crime itself seems to lose its occasion. Ever avid— 
ever grasping, he falls, step by step, in the foul sink, and the colony 
sees in Gabriel Varney its most pestilent rogue, — arch-convict amidst 
convicts, — doubly lost amongst the damned; they banish him to the 
sternest of the penal settlements, — they send him forth with the vilest 
to break stones upon the roads. Shrivelled, and bowed, and old, pre- 
maturely — see that sharp face peering forth amongst the gang, scarcely 
human, — see him cringe to the lash of the scornful overseer, — see the 
pairs chained together, night and day ! Ho, ho ! his comrade hath 
found him again — the Artist and the Gravestealer leashed together ! 
Conceive that fancy, so nurtured by habit — those tastes, so womanized 
by indulgence, —the one suggesting the very horrors that are not — the 
other revolting at all toil as a torture. 

But intellect, not all gone, though hourly dying heavily down to ;he 
level of the brute, yet schemes for delivery and escape, het the plot- 
ripen, and the heart bound ; break his chain — set him free — send him 
forth to the wilderness ! Hark, the whoop of the wild men ! See 
those things that ape our species dance and gibber round the famish- 
ing hunted wretch. Hark how he shrieks at the torture ! Hoy 
they tear, and they pinch, and they burn, and they rend him ! They, 
too, spare his life— it is charmed ! A Caliban amidst Calibans, they 
heap him with their burthens, and feed him on their offal. Let him 
live ; he loved life for himself, he has cheated the gibbet— let him 
live ! Let him watch, let him once more escape ; all naked and 
mangled, let him wander back to the huts of his gang. Lo ! where 
he kneels, the foul tears streaming down, and cries aloud, "I have 
broken all your laws, I will tell you all my crimes ; I ask but one 
sentence — hang me up — let me die ! " And from the gang groan 
many voices, — " Hang us up — let us die ! " _ The overseer turns 
on his heel, and Gabriel Yarney again is chained to the laughing 
Gravestealer. 

You enter those gates so jealously guarded, — you pass, with a 
quick beat of the heart, by those groups on the lawn, though they are 
harmless ; — you follow your guide through those passages ; where the 
open doors will permit, you see the emperor_ brandish his sceptre of 
straw— hear the speculator counting Ins millions — sigh, where the 
maiden sits smilino:, the return of her shipwrecked lover — or gravely 
shake the head and hurry on, where the fanatic raves his Apocalypse, 
and reigns in judgment on the world ; — you pass by strong grates 
into corridors gloomier and more remote. _ Nearer and nearer, you 
hear the yell, and the oath and blaspheming curse — you are in the 
heart of the Madhouse, where they chain those at once cureless and 
dangerous — who have but sense enough left them to smite, and to 
throttle, and to murder. Your guide opens that door, massive as a 
wall : you scp (as we, who narrate, have seen her) Lucretia Dalibard : 
— a grisly, squalid, ferocious mockery of a human being — more 
appalling and more fallen than Dante ever fabled in his spectres, 
than Swift ever scoffed in Ms Ya-hoos! — Only where all_ other 
feature seems to have lost its stamp of humanity, still burns with un- 
quenchable fever — the red devouring eye. That eye never seems to 



L'.'OKETiA. rtOb 

sleep, or, in sleep, the lid never closes over it. As you shrink from 
its light, it seems to you as if the mind that had lost coherence and har- 
mony, st ill retained latent and incommunicable consciousness as its curse, 
For ' days, f< >r weeks— that awful maniac will preserve obstinate, 
unbroken silence ; but, as the eye never closes, so the hands never 
rest — t hey open and grasp, as if at some palpable object on which they 
close, vice-like, as a bird's talons on its prey — sometimes they wander 
over that brow, where the furrows seem torn as the thunder-scars, as 
if to wipe from it a stain, or charm from it a pans — sometimes they 
gather up the hem of that sordid robe, and seem, for hours together, 
striving to rub from it a soil. Then, out from prolonged silence, 
without cause or warning, will ring, peal after peal (till the frame, 
exhausted with the effort, sinks senseless iuto stupor), the frightful 
laugh. But speech, intelligible and coherent, those lips rarely 
yield. 

There are times, indeed, when the attendants are persuaded that 
her mind in part returns to her ; and those times, experience has 
taught them to watch with peculiar caution. The crisis evinces itself 
by a change in the manner — by a quick apprehension of all that is 
said — by a straining, anxious look at the dismal walls — by a soft 
fawning docility — by murmured complaints of the chains that fetter 
— and (though, as we have s.aid, but very rarely) by prayers, that 
seem rational, for greater ease and freedom. 

In the earlier time of her dread captivity, perhaps, when it was 
believed at the asylum that she was a patient of condition, with 
friends who cared for her state, and would liberally reward her cure, 
— they, in those moments, relaxed her confinement, and sought the 
gentler remedies their art employs ; but then invariably, and, it was 
said, with a cunning that surpassed all the proverbial astuteness of 
the mad, she turned this indulgence to the most deadly uses — she crept 
to the pallet of some adjacent sufferer weaker than herself, and the 
shrieks that brought the attendants into the cell, scarcely saved the 
intended victim from her hands. It seemed, in those imperfectly lucid 
intervals, as if the reason only returned to guide her to destroy — only 
to animate the broken mechanism into the beast of prey. 

Years have now passed since her entrance within those walls. He 
who placed her there never had returned — he had given a false name 
— no clue to him was obtained — the gold he had left was but the 
quarter's pay. When Varney had been first apprehended, Percival 
requested the younger Ardworth to seek the forger in prison — and to 
question him as to Madame Dalibard ; but Varney was then so appre- 
hensive that, even if still insane, her very ravings might betray his 
share in her crimes, or still more, if she recovered, that the remem- 
brance of her son's murder would awaken the repentance and the 
confession of crushed despair, that the wretch had judged it wiser to 
say that his accomplice was no more — that her insanity had already 
terminated in death. The place of her confinement thus continued a 
secret locked >'n his own breast. Egotist to the last, she was hence- 
forth dead to nim— why not to the world ? Thus the partner of her 
crimes had cut off her sole resource, in the compassion of her uncon- 



306 ^acEETLi. 

scicus kindred ; — thus the gates of the livmg world were shut to her 
evermore. Still, in a kind of compassion, or as an object of experi- 
ment — as a subject to be dealt with unscrupulously in that living 
dissection-hall — her grim gaolers did not grudge her an asylum. 
But, year, after year, the attendance was more slovenly — the treat- 
ment more harsh ; and strange to say, while the features were scarcely 
recognizable — while the form underwent all the^ change which the 
shape suffers when mind deserts it, that prodigious vitality which 
belonged to the temperament still survived. N o signs of decay are 
yet visible. Death, as if spurning the carcass, stands inexorably afar 
off. Earner of man's law, thou, too, hast escaped with life ! Not for 
thee is the sentence, " Blood for blood ! " Thou livest — thou mayst 
pass the cxtremest boundaries of age. Live on, to wipe the blood from 
thy robe ! — live on ! 

Not for the coarse object of creating an idle terror — not for the 
shock upon the nerves and the thrill of the grosser interest which the 
narrative of crime creates, has this book been compiled from the facts 
and materials afforded to the author. When the great German poet 
describes, in not the least noble of his lyrics, the sudden apparition of 
some 'Monster Fate ' in the circles of careless Joy, he assigns to him 
who teaches the world through parable or song, the right to invoke the 
spectre. It is well to be awakened at times from the easy common- 
place that surrounds our habitual life — to cast broad and steady and 
patient light on the darker secrets of the heart ; on the vaults and 
caverns of the social state, over which we build the market-place and 
the palace. We recover from the dread, and the awe, and the half- 
incredulous wonder, to set closer watch upon our inner and hidden 
selves. In him who cultivates only the reason, and suffers the heart 
and the spirit to lie waste and dead, who schemes and constructs, and 
revolves round the axle of self, unwarmed by the affections, unpoised 
by the attraction of right, — lies the germ late might ripen into the 
guilt of Olivier Dalibard. Lethim who but lives through the senses, 
spread the wings of the fancy in the gaudy glare of enjoyment cor- 
rupted, avid to seize, and impatient to toil, whose faculties are curbed 
but to the range of physical perception, whose very courage is but the 
strength of the nerves, who develops but the animal as he stifles the 
man, — let him gaze on the villany of Varney, and startle to see some 
magnified shadow of himself thrown dimly on the glass ! Let those 
who, with powers to command and passions to wing the powers, would 
sweep without scruple from the aim to the end — who, trampling 
beneath their footprint of iron the humanities that bloom up in 
their path — would march to success with the proud stride of the 
destroyer, hear, in the laugh of yon maniac murderess, the glee of the 
fiend they have wooed to their own souls ! Guard well, Heir of 
Eternity, the portal of sin — the thought ! From the thought to_ the 
deed, the subtler thy brain, and the bolder thy courage, the briefer 
and straighter is the way. Read these pages in disdain of self-com- 
mune — they shall revolt thee, not instruct ; read them, looking 
steadfastly within, and hew humble soever the art of the narrator, 
th? facts he narrates, like all history, shall teach by example. Every 



LLt'EETlA. 307 

tmman Act, good or ill, is an An^cl to s'uide or to warn;* mid the 
deeds of the worst have messages from Heaven to the listening hearts 
of the best. Amidst the ulcus in the Apennine, — in the lone wastes 
of Calabria, the sign of the Cross marks the spot where a deed of 
violence has been done; on all I hit ;>ass by the road, the symbol has 
varying effect; sometimes it startles the conscience, sometimes it 
invokes the devotion; the robber drops the blade, the priest counts 
the rosary. Si is it with the record 01 crime : and in the witness o* 
i.iuilt, Alan is thrilled with the whisper of Religion. 

* ^r.T Acts our Angels are — or pood or Ul ; 
l!:e iuU>l shadows tlir.t wii'U by us still. 



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nilla. proved them to be quite pure. All genuine Manzanilla comes from Sanlucar, 
and is much to be preferred to Sherries, especially for those who are delicate." — 
Medical Press t ' Circular. 

*ot tra at 42s. 

"It is a dclic.-' e wine, -unadulterated and undoctored" -West- 
minster Gazette. 

"Dcnyer and Co.'s.r . ...... . ;oroughly dry and clean, nothing hotandjiery, 

and a to/truss which u ' '■'■ gr>-. 'mprove by keeping. "—Medieal Times and Gazette. 

AMOI ILLADO at 48s. 

"Denyer and Co.'s pure Ma ilia from Sanlucar is an old wine of rare deli- 
cacy and exquisite bouquet." — Mori :?tg Post. 

u By personal experience we find at the price, 36$. and 48s. per doz., Denyer and 
Cos Manzanilla Sherry from Sanlucar Stan, quite unequalled." — Court Circular. 

Imported by F. T. DENYER & CO., 

No. 95, Regent Street, and 26, Dover Street, W. 

NOTICF. — < Mir pure Sanlucar Wines bear our registered label. We forward 
Samples on receipt of Stamps to defray Carriage — about 6d, per Sample. 

NEW MUSIc7Published by JOSEPH WILLIAMS, 
24, Berners Street, and 123, Cheapside, London. 

that Sweet Summer Time. y. — Lily and the 
River, v.— Our Song shall be of Him. if.— 
Sailor's Wife. 3^.— oice of the Western Wind 
y. Sweet Wife of Mine. y. 

New Songs by Ciro Pinsuti. 
Maiden's Flower Song. 3^. 
What we have Loved we Love for Ever. 3J. 

New Songs by Virginia -Gabriel.— 
At Last. y. — Be Thou Near Me. y, — Breeze 
and the Harp. y. — Leslie Gray. y. 

New Songs by W. V. Wallace.— Why 
do I Weep for Thee? js. — Sweet and Low. 3J-. 
— Mill Stream and the River. 3.1. — BrLig me 
my Harp. — False Friends. 



Spring Song, from "Babil and Bijou," for 
Piano. By B.Richards. 3*.— Do, Duet. 3*. 

UttleNelL y. 

She Wore a Wreath of Roses, y. 

Sweet Home. y. 

Acpas Dei. Mozart's 12th. y. 

Offertoire. Wehr. -,j. 

With Verdure Clad. Haydn. 3J. 
New Songs iy henry smart.— Bird and 

Late, 3*.— Rhine M.iden. 3^.— Singing thro' 

the Rain, y. — Rainbow and the Flowers. y, 
New Sonv.s BY J. L. Hatton.— Change 

of Twenty Y-jirs. ■ -j. — Children, y. — Clown's 

Song v.-Hc : I-ill me ;a Tankard, y. — In 




SEVENTY YEARS OF SUC- 
CESS have proved that 
P ' WLANDS' MACASSAR OIL 
c est and safest Restorer and 
Ufj.u...ier of the Human Hair, 
3j\ 6d., "]s., 10s. 6d. ; family bottles, 
equal to four small, 2IJ-. per bottle: 
ROWLANDS' KALYDOR im- 
proves and beautifies the complexion, 
4J. 6d. and Ss. 6d., per bottle. 
ROWLANDS' ODONTO whitens 
and preserves the Teeth, 2s. tyi. pei 
box. Sold by all Chemists and Per-- 
fumers everywhere. 



CL'AR K ' S 

asr;-*W JP.A.'T'EZISf'X' STEEL 

3ELF COILING REVOLVING SHUTTERS, 

NOiSELESS, IF REQUIRED, 
■JIBE AMD THIEF PBOOF. 

(ADAPTED FOB THE MANSION Ott COTTAGE.) 

HAHUFACT 'J&ER& TO HEE MAJESTY'S BOARD OF WORKS. 




Self-Coiling RevoMng Wcofi Sautter* from Is, 9d, per Foot. 

Self-Coiling Steel 1 Shutters, ?s. 6d. per Foot. 

CTJBVELINEAR IROW SHUTTERS, 2s. 6d. per Foot. 

IRON SHUTTERS, WITH GEAR, 4s. 6d. per Foot. 

Chese are the Cheapest and Most Secure Shutter.;, and are the only kind that 
io not require Machinery, and cannot get oat of order. 

PROSPECTUSES FORWARDED. 

s»^e.X!?;as medals, xsea, is ©7 &a leva. 

IiOHDO?! Rathbone Place. Oxi >rd Street. 

PARIS Rue Notre Daiiio das Vietoires, 20. 

VIENNA KarntfcnerstaciiKse, No. 8. 

MANCHESTER 22, Victoria Street. 

LIVERPOOL 87, .Lord Street. 

DUBLIN t8, Fleet Street. 

EDINBURGH «b, Rose Street. 

BOSTON, U.S. .. 10. Pemberton Square